AMES — The second after the news broke on Dec. 3 that Urbandale (2014) wide receiver Allen Lazard had committed to Iowa State, my Twitter feed instantly blew up. Pessimistic fans, some members of the local media and wise guys all over America were already trolling the Cyclone Nation with their “he hasn’t signed yet” campaign.
And to a point, I didn’t blame them. I mean – Lazard’s early commitment did come out of nowhere. Here is the nation’s top-ranked wide receiver with all of the options in the world, choosing Iowa State 14 months before National Signing Day. Chalk that one up for things you don’t see every day.
Let me preface what I’m about to write by stating that I do fully realize that in the world of football recruiting, anything can happen at anytime. There really are no guarantees until that ink is dry. But after talking to Lazard for a good 15 minutes last week, I’m fully convinced that he is 100 percent committed to becoming a Cyclone on the first Wednesday of February in 2014.
That’s the thing though. “Becoming a Cyclone” isn’t even accurate. He already is a Cyclone. Like many of you reading this, the young man has played football on the hills at Jack Trice Stadium. If you’re of the older generation and reading this, maybe you’ve never done settled a score on the hills. But I’d venture to guess that your kids/grandkids most certainly played a game or two. Rugrats chucking the pig skin around on the hill is an Iowa State tradition.I’d venture to guess that Lazard just might be the greatest hillside football player in Iowa State history.
That’s what makes him different. He gets the Iowa State thing.
Another example – when I asked Lazard to name off his favorite Cyclones of all time, he was almost giddy at the opportunity to do so. Without hesitation, the names Seneca Wallace and Todd Blythe came out of his mouth. I found the fact that he named off Jake Knott, whose path to Iowa State could not have been more different than that of his own, especially interesting.
A few years ago, the Cyclone Nation had to sit and watch one of their own, Ames High School’s Harrison Barnes, spur Iowa State for greener pastures in the national power North Carolina Tar Heels. I didn’t have a problem with that. Barnes had all of the right in the world to make his own decision – one that worked out pretty well for the lottery pick, who is now a member of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.
But in Allen Lazard, you’ve essentially got the football version of Harrison Banes, and he isn’t shopping around. Lazard knows what he wants. That is to wear the colors that he dreamed about wearing as a child, the cardinal and gold. It is a pretty cool story really, one that will only get bigger over time.
On Iowa State Basketball…
— If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, did the sound of the tree falling actually exist (I know, I know I Just butchered that saying – sue me). If you beat TCU at home by 34, does it actually mean anything?
Sure it does. Here’s what I took away from Saturday’s lop-sided victory over what perhaps is the worst team (how in the hell did TCU beat Kansas again?) in Big 12 history. The Cyclones got their mojo back after two losses and Iowa State’s next opponent, Baylor, got throttled by 20 in Manhattan.
Now we all know that comparing scores means nothing in college hoops. But we also all know that Baylor is Baylor is Baylor is Baylor. Maybe, just maybe, Bruce Weber’s team sucked the life out of the Bears in that rout Saturday. Maybe. Just maybe.
Tip time on Wednesday night is at 8 p.m. in Waco. We’re going to host a huge game watch at the Keg Stand in West Des Moines. Be there. I’ve got a good feeling about this one.
— On the season (which includes the nine games that he started), Anthony Booker is averaging 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. He played 11 minutes on Saturday, while recording zero points, two rebounds and three personal fouls. Is there a more hyped player with those statistics in Iowa State basketball history?
I know. I know. I get it. I get it. But last week’s tantrums that were thrown about one bench player were flat out ridiculous. If “Book” brings it like he did against Oklahoma (and even TCU, when he brought instant energy to the floor), he can help this basketball team. But dissecting every move he makes isn’t going to help anybody.
— On those same lines, is it possible for Iowa State to lose a game anymore and not have a full-blown meltdown on our forums? I get passion. I love the passion. Your passion is why I have a job and for that I am forever thankful! But can’t there be a level of disappointment after a loss, between meltdown mode and cheerleader, glass is always half-full guy? There has to be a middle ground right?
— I’m hearing that besides Lazard and Indianola offensive lineman Keegan Render, no Junior Day visitors left Ames with an offer in hand on Saturday.
— Congrats to Iowa State women’s basketball player Hallie Christofferson for joining the 1,000 point club. I remember calling her high school (Exira) games as a freshman and sophomore while working at KMA Radio down in Shenandoah. You could tell then that she was special.
— Last week’s decision by the IOC to get rid of wrestling in the Olympics affected me much more than I ever thought it would. I have never wrestled in my life. I’d be an awful wrestler. I lack self-discipline and toughness. While I’m not a HUGE fan of the sport, I respect it probably more than any other. Friends of mine in high school were state champs. I know how hard those guys worked to achieve what they did. And frankly, Iowa State’s wrestling program as of late has been nothing less than depressing. However, when that news dropped last week, I was sick to my stomach as an Iowan. It is part of our culture. It represents part of who we are as a state.
It was kind of an eye-opener for me too. We need to do a better job of covering Iowa State wrestling on this website. I’m working on some ways to do so this week so stay tuned.
That’s it. That’s all for today. Have a great work week!