It was just over a week ago when New Mexico Military Institute defensive lineman Terry Ayeni committed to Iowa State during his official visit to Ames. Ayeni, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end, chose the Cyclones mainly over offers from Northern Illinois and South Florida for multiple reasons.
One reason was especially intriguing.
“The name of the stadium spoke volumes to me,” Ayeni said of Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium. “It’s one of the only stadiums in the NCAA that is named after an African American. That caught my attention. That was unique. That was different. That develops a passion and makes you sit down and think.”
That’s interesting. I’ve covered Iowa State recruiting in one way or another for nearly a decade now and have never heard a prospect give that reason for making a pledge to the Cardinal and Gold.
“It just felt right,” Ayeni added. “I want to play in the Big 12. I want to play on the big stage. I want to get after the quarterback a little bit and it made sense to me.”
Ayeni, who plans to sign with Iowa State on Wednesday, recorded seven sacks and 14 tackles for a loss during his sophomore season in junior-college as a defensive end, which begs the question, what position will he play at Iowa State? Defensive end is the plan, but expect Ayeni to be a bit of a tweener.
“They told me that I will play end but they plan to mix it up a little bit on downs,” Ayeni said. “They might put four ends on the field at the same time.”
That description sounds a lot like how Iowa State used Rodney Coe in 2013.
Ayeni sees himself as a pass rusher, which is why playing in the Big 12 was so appealing to him.
“I think it fits my style,” Ayeni said. “I want to be known as a dominant pass rusher. I don’t mind playing the run either. I did both in JUCO. But getting after the quarterback excites me.”
Ayeni has lofty goals for his two seasons (he’s a three to play two guy) at the Division I level.
“My goal is to be the leader in sacks,” Ayeni said. “Playing in the Big 12 gives me the opportunity to do that.”
Ayeni also realizes that while his future teammates will be participating in spring drills come March, he will be on his own. That means that he needs to work especially hard to arrive in Ames in decent shape this summer. Ayeni has an uncle, former NFL offensive lineman Tutan Reyes (he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints), who he will likely train with for a period of time.
“After signing day I’m going to call Coach Rhoads and we will talk about that,” Ayeni said. “I will probably go spend a week in Atlanta and train with my uncle who played in the NFL. Obviously, he knows what it takes and what I need to do. My goal is to come in the best shape that I can, in the best shape ever.”
That is generally half of the battle when it comes to junior-college prospects too – getting them to realize that this isn’t JUCO ball anymore. It is a whole different world in the Big 12 and clearly, Ayeni realizes this.
“It’s not a JUCO thing anymore where I am the best player on my team or I feel like I am the best player going into every game,” Ayeni said. “I have to work that much harder to stand out.”
Iowa State defensive tackles coach Shane Burnham served as Ayeni’s primary recruiter.
As we do every year, CycloneFanatic.com team up with the Des Moines Register to host a marathon National Signing Day chat on our front page tomorrow starting at 7 a.m. Check out our front page later today for complete details.