AMES — As Quenton Bundrage watched, all the teaching points suddenly made perfect sense.
Iowa State’s star junior wide receiver, who missed all but three plays of last season with a torn ACL, began to see the game through the eyes of his coaches — and that new perspective could lead to bigger things in 2015, which obviously excites Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads.
“I think now, going into his fifth year, he’ll be a man that won’t be afraid to speak up and voice those things,with what had been stripped away from him and not knowing if he’ll still get another opportunity,” Rhoads said during Wednesday’s mid-year signing day-based gathering with reporters.
Rhoads also noted that Bundrage, who tied the school’s single-season touchdown receptions record with nine in 2013, is ahead of schedule in terms of his recovery.
“Generally six months is the timetable for an ACL, which would put him into March,” Rhoads said. “But I believe he’ll be out there every day in the spring. I don’t think we’ll hit him. We certainly won’t tackle him. But I don’t think he’ll miss a day of spring practice based on what I’m watching.”
Bundrage emerged as a big-play threat in 2013, totaling 48 catches for 676 yards and the nine touchdowns. He scored multiple touchdowns in three games, including a three-touchdown performance against Iowa.
Next season Bundrage plans to be a leader in more ways than one.
“Met with him yesterday and spoke about those things in a leadership role moving forward, because he’s going to be very valuable to our team,” Rhoads said. “Leadership’s going to be very important to our team in this offseason and beyond.”
Rhoads added that ISU plans to seek a medical redshirt year for Bundrage, but views the prospects for approval as dim.
"He’s going to have his degree and he’ll have a chance to put hismelf in a position to get looked at by the National Football League," Rhoads said. "I think if he gets that accomplished at the end of this fall with his degree in hand, that’s probably what he’ll do. If he doesn’t have that kind of year and he wants to file the waiver, that’s exactly what we’ll do. On paper, the NCAA would tell you, ‘No it’s a rejection,’ but the guy played three plays for crying out loud (this season), so we’ll file it anyway.”
MUTCHERSON UPDATE: Rhoads said safety T.J. Mutcherson’s status with the team remains uncertain. Mutcherson started the first 10 games of the season but was suspended for violating team rules in the final two games. “(Things) have not been sorted out with T.J.,” Rhoads said. “Still in the final stages of making a decision on that.” Rhoads also noted that as of Wednesday, he didn’t foresee any other current players’ statuses with the team changing.
QB SAM HEALING: Quarterback Sam Richardson’s right shoulder injury is not yet 100 percent healed, Rhoads said. The junior play-caller sustained the AC-joint separation late in the Oklahoma loss and finished the season with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. “Still doing more band strength than true weight strength, but by Jan. 12 when we have our first team meeting preceding winter workouts they believe he’ll be if not 100 percent, awfully close,” Rhoads said.