What Phil Steele’s preview says about the Cyclones

By Chris Williams, PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams  

Another one of my preseason magazine reviews here at

Here’s what the Cyclone Nation needs to know regarding Phil Steele’s annual.

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OVERALL: Mr. Steele just can’t seem to get a grip on Paul Rhoads and Iowa State. Steele admits it in this issue too. Here’s what he wrote about the 2012 Cyclones in his "Big 12 Forecast," where Steele picks Iowa State to finish ninth in the league’s standings.

"It was with a great deal of trepidation that I put the Cyclones down here at #9. Paul Rhoads is a perfect 3 for 3 in topping my expectations as I did not expect them to get to a bowl game in 2 of his 3 years. ISU has just 12 returning st’rs which is tied for the 2nd fewest and lose 22 lett (tied for 2nd most). They were -11 in TO’s and it will be interesting to see if Rhoads surpasses my expectations a 4th straight year."

Steele’s predicted order of finish for the Big 12 looks like this:

1 – Oklahoma
2 – Texas
2 – Oklahoma State
4 – West Virginia
5 – TCU
6 – Kansas State
7 – Texas Tech
8 – Baylor
9 – Iowa State
10 – Kansas

Even though it’s obvious that Steele has respect for Rhoads’ ability as a coach, he doesn’t see a lot of talent on Iowa State’s roster. For instance, Steele ranks Iowa State’s running backs, wide receivers and defensive line as the worst in the Big 12. Steele tabs Iowa State’s quarterbacks as the second worst in the league and the linebackers? Middle of the pack in fifth.

LINEBACKER LOVE (kind of): Steele is high on Iowa State linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott heading into 2012 but not as much as you’d think…

Steele ranks Klein as the nation’s 13th best inside linebacker and Knott is ranked eight amongst America’s outside linebackers. Steele tabbed Klein on his fourth-team All-American roster. Both Knott and Klein are on Steele’s first-team All-Big 12 roster.

Even so, Steele ranks Iowa State’s linebackers as a whole 35th in the nation. Thirty-fifth! For comparison’s sake, Lindy’s ranked Iowa State’s linebacking core as the second best in America behind only Georgia.


— Phil Steele really loves senior tight end Kurt Hammerschmidt. Steele predicts Hammerschmidt, who caught 13 passes for 126 yards as a junior, to be a fourth-team All-Big 12 tight end as well in 2012.

— Senior defensive tackle Jake McDonough is listed as the nation’s 59th best defensive tackle. Steele also lists McDonough as a second-team All-big 12 player.

— Not that it means anything, but Steele projects Jared Barnett to be Iowa State’s starting quarterback. He also writes this:

"Regardless of which QB starts, I look for much improved numbers."

— A few weeks ago, I wrote at length about Steele’s All-Big 12 teams. CLICK HERE to check out that column.

— Steele ranks the Texas Longhorns as his No. 1 surprise team for the 2012 season. He ranks Oklahoma State third in the same category. Steele appears to really believe that Texas is a legitimate national title contender.