Williams: Previewing National Signing Day

Fanatics love it. Casual fans politely do without it. Some folks absolutely hate it.

Regardless of your stance on the first Wednesday of February, what the kids call "NSD" is a big deal.

National Signing Day is the one day every year in which every program feels good about itself. Every coach is confident. Every team is undefeated. Every prospect, regardless of how many stars are next to his name, has the potential to be a great one. 

However after doing this type of work for quite a few years now, I’ve learned that ranking, analyzing and dissecting these recruiting classes is far from an exact science. Heck, it’s as unpredictable as Royce White’s Twitter feed. 

Jake Knott was once a two-star prospect that nobody (other than Iowa State) wanted. 

Then there are the Sedrick Johnson’s of the world, highly-touted prospects with all sort of stars who don’t turn out to be much of anything. 

Nobody is a sure thing. Nobody is a sure bust. Nobody knows and if that guy in the cubicle sitting next to you claims that he does, he’s full of it (and you can tell him I said that). 

The heart and soul of a college football program is development. How good can you make these guys once they step foot on your campus? That’s all fine and dandy but the fact of the matter is if you recruit better players, you can make those players even better over the course of five years. 

Developtment is critical but if you swing and miss consistently on the recruiting trail, coaches don’t stay employeed for long.  

At the time of me publishing this column, I’m estimating that Iowa State will sign anywhere from 24 to 27 prospects on Wednesday. Here’s my very subjective and unscientific look at Paul Rhoads’ 2013 class.

*** Got plans on Wednesday night? Members of the Iowa State coaching staff will be at the Cyclone Fanatic Recruiting Party that begins at 7 p.m. at the Keg Stand in West Des Moines *** 

Who’s left?

Assuming that Tampa, (Fla.) Jesuit defensive tackle Robert Garcia is indeed a solid commitment, Iowa State is still in the mix for three other prospects (that I know of) leading up to Wednesday’s final hour. Those men are:

Johnny Holton – This 6-foot-3, 200-pound wide receiver has a decision to make between Iowa State and Cincinnati. Holton officially visited Iowa State last weekend.

Davarez Bryant – He’s a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end out of New Smyma Beach, (Fla.) who is supposedly choosing between the Cyclones and Florida State.

One last prospect to keep an eye on is Jerry Haymon, a JUCO safety out of Visalia, California’s College of the Sequoias. Haymon officially visited Iowa State on Jan. 25. Haymon committed to Eastern Michigan in the class of 2011, only to end up going the JUCO route instead.

The headliner…

Jake Campos, OL, West Des Moines, (Iowa) Valley – Without a doubt, this is the top-ranked player in the state of Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class. Campos, who originally committed to Missouri last summer, chose Iowa State over Oklahoma, Kansas State, Purdue, Illinois and Kansas to name a few. His offer list likely would have been even more cluttered had he not committed to the Tigers so early in the prospect. ranks Campos as a four-star recruit and the 16th best offensive lineman in the 2013 class. For Iowa State, it’s always nice when you can snag the state’s top prospect away from the University of Iowa, who also offered Campos. 

For a program that saw major offensive line issues in 2012, Iowa State’s headline commitment of 2013 is anticipated to be its offensive line anchor for three or four years. 

*** Stop by our National Signing Day chat that will begin at 8 a.m. on Wednesday *** 

The guys with the best chance to make an impact next season…

Alton Meeks, LB, Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips – Because for one, Meeks looks the part. And two, Iowa State is in desperate need of warm bodies at the linebacker position going forward. Obviously Jake Knott and A.J. Klein are long gone but dig a little deeper and you’ll find significant attrition at the linebacker position in Ames over the last couple of seasons.

Meeks is a guy who could very realistically see the field on special teams at the very least in 2013. You cannot put a price tag on how valuable Meeks being in town a semester early is for his career, and this program.

Rodney Coe, DL, Iowa Western C.C. – He’s the guy who will have an opportunity to make the biggest impact of anybody in this class next season. Coe, who originally committed to Iowa two years ago as a running back, played defensive end last season for IWCC. As of now, it’s unsure as to where he’ll end up in Ames but it will be at defensive end or defensive tackle. If you look at Iowa State’s scholarship chart for next season, tackle makes more sense as it would fill more of a need.

Regardless, this is a guy coming in who has a legitimate shot to start in 2013.

Aaron Wimberly, RB, Iowa Western C.C. – Coe’s JUCO teammate, running back Aaron Wimberly, is known for his speed and play-making ability. Take a look at Iowa State’s offense over the past four seasons. What has it lacked? Speed and play-making ability.

Of course Iowa State is deep at running back but don’t forget about Shontrelle Johnson’s serious knee injury during Liberty Bowl prep. We really don’t have a clue as to his status and besides that, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Wimberly did choose Iowa State over the likes of Iowa, Penn State and TCU. He obviously has talent. Maybe he’ll have the opportunity to bring a different dynamic to Iowa State’s offense in 2013? 

Like Meeks, Wimberly is already on campus working out with the team and he’ll participate in spring football.  

Emmanuel Bibbs, TE, Arizona Western C.C. – He’s a tight end that chose Iowa State over Oklahoma. If Bob Stoops wanted him, that’s good enough for me.

Sure, Iowa State will have Ernst Brun back next season but it’s kind of cool to think about what Courtney Messingham might be able to do with two quality pass catching tight ends on the field at one time. Variety and options… Bibbs, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, brings both of them to the table immediately. 

Three Sleepers…

Joel Lanning, QB, Ankeny, Iowa – I’ve heard some people refer to Lanning as a young Collin Klein…Of course those are heavy expectations but if you’re going to be compared to a college quarterback, Kansas State’s Klein isn’t a bad one to be mentioned with. 

I list Lanning as a “sleeper” not because he isn’t thought of as a quality prospect (he had a scholarship offer from Nebraska), but because many have always just assumed that he would play another position at the college level.

Lanning will be a quarterback at Iowa State and I for one am excited to see how the local kid who led Ankeny to a 2012 state championship does at the next level. Lanning threw for 2312 yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions as a senior. He also ran for 1,072 and 17 touchdowns as well. 

Trevor Hodge, QB, Perris, (Calif.) Citrus Hill – Yes, another quarterback. This program has been playing musical quarterbacks for the last two seasons but I’m convinced that between Sam Richardson, Grant Rohach, Lanning and Trevor Hodge, one of these guys (at least) is going to be really, really good. 

Hodge, who was Iowa State’s first commitment in its 2013 class, led his high school program to a state championship in 2012 (while going 14-0) and threw for 2,934 yards and 31 touchdowns (to only five interceptions) along the way.

Like Lanning, Hodge is on the sleeper list simply because I feel like people are underestimating what this young man might be able to do at the quarterback position.

Justin Madison, LB, Tampa, (Fla.) Robinson – One of Iowa State’s final commitments of the class, Madison is a 4.0 student that chose the Cyclones over Miami, South Florida and Wake Forest. To me, Madison seems like one of those guys who is just good at everything that he does. He’s smart. He’s charismatic. He’s one guy who I have a hard time imagining could ever be a bust. 

Breakdown by state

Florida – 8
Texas – 6
Iowa – 5
California – 2
Arizona – 1
Wisconsin – 1
Illinois – 1

Breakdown by position 

QB – 2
RB – 2
WR – 2
TE – 2
OL – 5
DL – 4
LB – 3
DB – 2
ATH – 2

Total: 24

Iowa State’s Class of 2013

Trevor Hodge, QB, Perris, (Calif.) Citrus Hill
Kamari Syrie, DB, Hurst, (Texas) L.D. Bell
Emmanuel Bibbs, TE, Arizona Western C.C.
Jacob Homa, OL, Brookfield, (Wisc.) Central
Alex Leslie, TE, New Braunfels, (Texas)
Tyler Brown, RB, Lakeland, (Fla.) Lake Gibson
D.A. Williams, DB, St. Augustine, (Fla.)
Justin Webster, ATH, Houston, (Texas) Northland Christian
J.D. Waggoner, DE, Dallas, (Texas) Jesuit
Brandon Harris, WR, Cedar Hill, (Texas)
Nick Severs, OL,  Macomb, (Ill.)
Joel Lanning, QB, Ankeny, Iowa
Aaron Wimbely, RB, Iowa Western Community College
Brian Mills, LB, East Ridge, (Fla.) Clermont
Bryan Ajumobi, WR, South Grand Prairie, (Texas) Grand Prairie 
Ryan Glenn, OL, Waukee, Iowa
Vernell Trent, DE, Jacksonville, (Fla.) Forrest 
Shawn Curtis, OL, Orlando, (Fla.) Olympia
Rodney Coe, DL, Iowa Western C.C. 
Alton Meeks, LB, Orlando, (Fla.) Dr. Phillips 
Jake Campos, OL, West Des Moines, (Iowa) Valley
Kamari Cotton-Moyta, DB, Bakersfield, (Calif.) Ridgeview 
Justin Madison, LB, Tampa, (Fla.) Robinson 
Robert Garcia, OL, Tampa, (Fla.) Jesuit