By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
One of the biggest keys to a successful 2011 Iowa State football season is production out of the wide receiver position.
There will be a new man in charge of that group when the Cyclones take the field vs. Northern Iowa on Sept. 3.
Veteran Courtney Messingham will run the show, after coaching Iowa State’s tight ends for the past two seasons.
CycloneFanatic.com recently caught up with Messingham and asked him the following questions about this crucial position group as the season approaches.
CF: What has the change been like for you this offseason? Have you had to do much differently in preparing for the season?
CM: Having an opportunity to work with all of the wide outs in the spring was great. It allowed them to get a feeling for what I am all about as a coach but also let me get to know them as individuals a little bit more. As the summer went on, we obviously don’t get to spend a lot of time with them but still, having them come in once in a while just to say hello, talking about their issues, you name it. Getting to know them was really good for me. When two-a-days start, I have been fortunate enough to coach wide receivers at other places. You have got the things that you know you want to accomplish. If it is working good with their hands or working on ball skills and ball security. Those are things that you are going to cover all of the time. It is easy to fall back on what I have done in the past, yet still coach these guys as individuals and the things that they need to get better at. It has been a good offseason as far as how well they have worked. I am excited about it.
CF: This is a group that has struggled over the past couple of seasons but Paul said down in Dallas that he thinks this is the best group of receivers that he’s had at Iowa State. Are you looking forward to this challenge?
CM: I think that we have a number of guys who really have the ability to make plays. When you look at Darius Reynolds and you look at Josh Lenz and Aaron Horne, Darius Darks and Jarvis West, all of them have shown if it is in the spring, practice or game day. Look back to Darius Reynolds catching that post against Texas Tech. That’s a big guy who can go and make plays. We just have to be consistent and worry about taking care of our own business. When the quarterbacks give us an opportunity to catch a ball for a big play, that we make that big play.
CF: Jarvis West was last year’s offensive scout team player of the year. How dangerous can he actually be?
CM: I think that he can be a special player. I really believe that a year ago, if he would have stayed healthy through two-a-days, he would have played as a freshman. Now that we’ve got him for four more years, we’re really excited. He is one of those guys where on any given play, if you don’t tackle him the first time, there’s a chance that he is going to go get a bunch of yards. We hope to see a bunch of that out of him.
CF: The only thing that I’ve seen out of Aaron Horne was the spring game. Horne and West physically look an awful lot alike. Are they similar players?
CM: Similar players in that they are very good in short space. They can really change directions and make defensive players miss. That’s what they bring to the table. I don’t think that either of them are 100-meter dash guys. Yet, I think both of them are very quick. They have the ability to change directions and do things with the ball in their hands. It will be exciting to watch them.