Football recruit finds surprising connection with Iowa State assistant

Iowa State football coaches Paul Rhoads, Shane Burnham and Louis Ayeni hopped on a plane Monday and headed to New Mexico. The goal of the trip was to secure an official visitor for the upcoming weekend named Terry Ayeni, a defensive lineman out of the New Mexico Military Institute.

A coach with the last name Ayeni is recruiting a prospect with the last name Ayeni. No, the two men are not related. Well, they didn’t think they were related. On second thought, they actually might be related.

“We had to do a little bit of a background check,” Terry said of his chat with Iowa State’s new running backs coach.

It turns out that both men have parents who come from Nigeria.

“There is some sort of connection there because that name is only common within one certain tribe,” Terry said. “We could be related. It was pretty cool to meet someone who might be family who I have never had the chance to meet.”

The wildest nugget that comes from this true “small world” story is that up until this point in his life, Terry had never met a non-family member who shared his last name.

“Neither of us had ever come across somebody else with the same last name,” Terry said.

In addition to learning more about Iowa State, the three-star prospect has a little extra motivation for this weekend’s official visit.

“We’re going to look into the name thing a little bit,” Terry said.

Terry Ayeni recorded seven sacks and 14 tackles for a loss last season as a sophomore. He would be a critical final piece to Iowa State’s recruiting class.

He visited Northern Illinois last week, will travel to South Florida next week and is talking with Mississippi State.

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Eight additional prospects will join Ayeni for one of the busiest recruiting weekends of the year. Five of those prospects already have committed, a group that includes Urbandale wide receiver Allen Lazard, who is ready to get this process over with.

“It will be a big weight off of my shoulders, not having to answer the same question over and over again,” Lazard said.

Iowa State missed out on Tommy Mister last Saturday (he committed to Indiana) but will host Lawton, Okla., running back Michael Warren this weekend. Rhoads made an in-home visit to the Warren residence this week.

“He said that I have everything that they are looking for,” Warren said. “I can catch, run and have a little bit of speed.”

Warren claims offers from a handful of non-BCS programs and could be visiting Wisconsin next weekend.

Two high-profile high school defensive players will make the trip as well. Clarksdale, Miss., athlete J.T. Gray will choose between Iowa State and Mississippi State. Clearwater, Fla., cornerback Mike Johnson will choose between Iowa State, Louisville and Marshall, among others.

In a joint venture with the Des Moines Register and, Chris Williams is providing weekly recruiting updates until signing day on Feb. 5.