Tuesday Musings: Stars don’t mean as much in Ames

Stars next to a prospects name at are nice but they aren’t necessary. Not at Iowa State at least.

Now don’t get me wrong. If a five-star, blue chip defensive tackle wanted to come play football at Iowa State, I’m sure that Paul Rhoads would be all about it. I’m almost positive too that in most cases, that highly touted young man would see the field ahead of a one-or two-star prospect.

Usually, a guy has four or five stars next to his name for a reason. His body is better at the time and most of the time, there’s more talent there too.

But let’s be realistic here can we? Over the course of history, how many of those big-time recruits has Iowa State landed?



And that’s why I found part of a recent interview that I conducted with Iowa State’s strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight so fascinating. I always thought that I understood Iowa State’s philosophy when it comes to recruiting, but McKnight laid it out so clearly when he said: 

“You have to recruit body types. Length and range of guys is important. Ultimately, we always look at composition. What is it? Is it a guy who is 280 pounds who is in the high 20s of body fat? Those are the types of things that we look at. For a kid like Devlyn Cousins, this is a bigger kid coming in who has good size walking in the door. Then it is about re-proportioning that body to get it ready to play at this level. The kid comes in as a very strong kid but we need to re-shape some things here and there and re-mold him a little bit. That’s like Jeremiah George coming in at 195 pounds. You know what I mean? It takes you a couple of years to get him ready to play in the Big 12. It just does. Willie Scott is the same thing. He came in at 195 pounds as a freshman in 2009. You won’t see him play for a couple of years. It takes some time, which is good and bad. You get the guys strong and ready to play and hopefully they stay a little bit more healthy moving forward. If you have to play a bunch of young guys, more than likely you’re going to get them hurt.” 

So what can you, the Cyclone Fanatic, take from this?

The message is clear and simple.

Don’t get too worked up about spring and summer football commitments that don’t have many stars next to their names. This is all part of Iowa State’s plan.

As McKnight noted, Iowa State is recruiting body types – kids it feels it can turn into a quality Big 12 player. That game plan shows confidence in recruiting and most importantly, confidence in McKnight in the strength and conditioning program at Iowa State.

In addition to that, I’m noticing a bit of a trend when it comes to Paul Rhoads’ recent recruiting methods at Iowa State. In the spring and summer, load up on these recruits with solid bodies who you feel can eventually develop into a Big 12 player.

In the fall and winter when official visits are taking place, swing for the fences.

Some thoughts on the YMCA CCL…

Just a friendly reminder to everybody on this beautiful Tuesday in central Iowa that Tavon Sledge once scored 50-some points in a Capital City League game… 

*** Sherron Dorsey-Walker’s opening night 67-point eruption was impressive, no doubt. But he shot the ball 45 times. Monte Morris scored 47 points on 23 field goal attempts. That is by far, the best stat from Sunday night via any Iowa State player in my humble opinion.

*** Brent Blum and I have talked a lot about K.J. Bluford over the last month and his debut in the CCL did not surprise me at all. Bluford, a JUCO transfer, chucked 25 threes on Sunday night. Twenty-five! He made seven of them. Just wait folks – Bluford will have a night when he absolutely goes off this summer. The dude takes the phrase “volume shooter” to a whole new level.

*** I feel like Dustin Hogue’s modest 14 point, 10 rebound performance reflects what we’ll see from him at Iowa State in the future. He’s not necessarily a double-double guy, but Hogue comes across to me as a guy who you can just count on to be solid. Not flashy. Just solid. And friends, solid is good.

*** While performances in the YMCA Capital City League absolutely cannot be taken too seriously, they can’t just be laughed off either. Over the years, we’ve absolutely seen a correlation to success in that league and playing time at Iowa State. Regardless of the league, the studs are going to be better than the duds. Hence Georges Niang’s “quiet” 44-point night on Sunday. However, my gut tells me that when you factor in Drake not having much of anything this year, stat lines will be inflated this summer.

Ihmels moves on, opportunity knocks

Chalk this up as something that you just don’t see every week. That’s track & field/cross country being a topic in Musings. On Friday afternoon, Boise State announced that it had hired Iowa State’s leader and alum, Cory Ihmels.

A few observations…

On the surface, losing Ihmels is a bad thing for Iowa State. After all, he’s essentially put Iowa State on the map over the last six years. And he’s an Iowa State graduate. You never like to lose coaches who “get” Iowa State. Ihmels seemed to do just that. 

Here’s the thing though…

Last week, I interviewed Jamie Pollard. Pollard told me about how the week before, he had taken his family on a vacation to Oregon for the NCAA Track and Field Championships. 

How many families that you know of go on vacation at the NCAA Track and Field Championships? 

The point is that Pollard is a track guy. He’s well connected in the sport and I’m positive is amped up about making this hire. Ihmels did what every coach wants to do. That’s leave the program in a better spot than the day that he arrived. That most certainly is the case here.

Iowa State is a much more attractive job than it was a decade ago, in large part because of Ihmels.

From a Directors’ Cup standpoint, this is a very important hire for Iowa State’s athletic department. The man (or woman) who gets this gig will be in charge of four sports. The Directors’ Cup might not mean much to the casual fan or media, but I guarantee you that Iowa State’s athletic department takes it very seriously.  

Ihmels took Iowa State to a new level and chances are, somebody out there can advance the programs beyond that. This is an opportunity for Iowa State to make a big splash in the world of track and field.

I for one am curious to see how this all plays out.