Starter and all, Shontrelle wants to return kicks

By Chris Williams, PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams

Here’s a story that you won’t see anybody else writing about after Iowa State’s annual media day for 2011.

Who is going to return kicks for the Cyclones in year three of the Paul Rhoads era?

In 2010, Shontrelle Johnson led Iowa State with 25 returns for 585 yards, averaging 23.4 yards per return.

But last season, Shontrelle Johnson was a backup running back.

Now, the 5-foot-9, 187-pound sophomore they call "Rabbit" is out of Alexander Robinson’s spotlight. He’s Iowa State’s primary running back heading into Sept. 3’s season opener against Northern Iowa.

Do you put one of your top weapons back at kick return in hopes of a big play or two, or do you try to protect Johnson, a who Rhoads describes as a "violent runner."

"As a staff, with Coach Rhoads making the final call, we will see how much Shontrelle can handle," said Iowa State’s kickoff return coordinator and wide receivers coach Courtney Messingham. "I want him back there obviously because I think that he is an explosive player who can make big plays for us.”

Johnson agrees.

“I want the ball in my hands. I want to be able to make plays," Johnson said. "If being the starting running back prevents me from being on kickoff return then so be it. But at the same time, I want to return kicks.”

Messingham also said that the staff would look at Leonard Johnson, Josh Lenz, Jarvis West and Aaron Horne to return kicks for the Cyclones.

"We will look at all of the guys who we feel can make a special play happen," Messingham said.

What do you think?