AMES — Two of the top kick returners in Iowa State history can be found on the 2013 roster. However, neither Shontrelle Johnson (8) nor Jarvis West (9) are anywhere to be seen on Iowa State’s depth chart at kick return leading up to Saturday’s season-opener (7:05 p.m. on CyclonesTV) vs. Northern Iowa.
Senior wide receiver Albert Gary won one of the jobs and surprisingly, sophomore wide out Quenton Bundrage won the other.
Bundrage’s presence on special teams is a curious move because of the fact that Iowa State’s offensive coaches have been so matter-of-fact regarding what they expect him to mean to this program this season. The 6-foot-2, 189-pound Florida product will by all means be Iowa State’s primary receiver.
So why risk injury to such a valuable piece of your offensive arsenal by placing him at kick return?
Well, according to special teams coordinator Shane Burnahm, the answer to that question is simple. Bundrage gives Iowa State the best chance to create that much-needed big play.
“I think we have options,” Burnham said after Tuesday’s practice. “We just think Quenton is the best option because he’ll hit it (the hole). He is a big that can run through an arm tackle. He’s real decisive.”
There isn’t a lot of side-to-side movement when it comes to Quenton Bundrage. He’s a “get the ball up field” type of guy and that’s what Iowa State apparently wants out of its ace kick returner going forward.
“He’s what I refer to as a one-cut guy,” Burnham said. “If you can give him a seem, he’s one of those guys where there’s no fear for him to go from zero to 60. Where some guys kind of try to feel their way through there, Quenton, we believe, is a guy who will go zero to 60 and run to the landmark of where the return is supposed to be. He gives us a chance, we think, to get one to bust.”
Sure, putting Bundrage back deep on kick return is a bit of a risk. But it’s a risk that Iowa State is very willing to take. It’s a sign of just how much Paul Rhoads’ staff values special teams and most importantly, big play potential.