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Football

WILLIAMS: National Signing Day analysis

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AMES — Will Iowa State’s class of 2015 ultimately turn a program that has gone 5-19 over the last two seasons around?

Heck, I don’t know.

I am sure of one thing though. Especially lately, Iowa State protected the core of its class from some big time programs that smelled blood in the water. The Cyclones also stole a recruit or two in the final hours as well.

Of course, Rob Gray and I will be in Ames later today for more coverage of National Signing Day that you can handle but until then, here are some quick commentary hits on Iowa State’s class of 2015.

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GUY WHO LOOKS THE PART

Is defensive end Seth Nerness. Iowa State held off Kansas State, Michigan, North Carolina, West Virginia and Louisville — late — to ultimately sign the former Murray High School product.

“He gives us great range at the defensive end position,” Paul Rhoads said. 

Nerness, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound prospect, has a frame that certainly looks the part.

This is a guy, in my opinion, who could anchor Iowa State’s defense for years to come. He just happens to play one of the most important positions on the field.

BE EXCITED ABOUT …

Denver Johnson and Joshua Thomas.

Everybody loves skill position guys and Iowa State got two good ones right here.

Starting with Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound wide receiver, who has that body type that you’re always looking for in a wide receiver. Watch his highlight video and try not to get excited.

Joshua Thomas, a 5-foot-11, 230-pound running back out of Georgia, chose Iowa State over Wisconsin and Georgia Tech. Thomas was a critical signee because he essentially replaced Devine Ozigbo, a former Iowa State commit who ultimately inked with Nebraska. Some people inside the program actually like Thomas’ game more.

“He gives us a big, powerful running back that we need to add to our run game, that we need to add to our offense,” Rhoads said.

A STEAL? …

I wrote about this guy yesterday but in case you missed it, I’ll mention Hakeem Butler again. I mean, who doesn’t love 6-foot-7 wide receivers? Rhoads actually compared Butler’s potential body to Allen Lazard and D’Vario Montgomery

“He’s a tremendous blocker as well,” Rhoads said. “That scholarship goes both ways, to catch and to block.”

Butler has good bloodlines too. You know the Harrison twins that play basketball at Kentucky? Those are his first cousins. 

"Never been so proud before in my life," Aaron Harrison tweeted. "Watched this boy grow up and overcome a lot tough things and now you doing it."

PRIZED POSSESSION …

There was Twitter drama a couple of weeks ago when it surfaced that Cedar Rapids (Washington) offensive lineman Julian Good-Jones might be visiting Louisville. Good-Jones didn’t take the visit, but was being courted heavily (and offered) by the Cardinals and Indiana late.

Iowa State loves this kid.

"He’s a winner,” Rhoads said. “He’s a leader. He’s a motivator. I can’t wait to get him on campus."

IMMEDIATE HELP …

Why do programs recruit junior college prospects?

It isn’t to ride the pine, I’ll tell you that.

Iowa State signed six JUCO’s in its 2015 class – four of them on the defensive side of the ball. Iowa State signed seven JUCO’s last year.

Stay tuned. We’ll have more coverage on these guys later today.

THE "SURPRISE"

I’ll call it a semi-surprise. 

Iowa State inked another running back to its 2015 class, Sheldon Croney of Bakersfield, Calif. 

JOTTINGS …

*** Marcel Spears, a linebacker out of Olathe, Kan., chose Iowa State over Missouri, Kansas State and Kansas. He’s a guy who Iowa State had to defend until the 12th hour. 

*** Louisville and Arkansas began recruiting Kissimmee, Fla. defensive back Stephon Brown late in the process.

*** Paul Rhoads on the quarterback of the class, Dominic Delira

“Dom is the first thing that you look for in a quarterback, a leader,” Rhoads said. “We were fortunate to have Dom in camp last summer. It was a very exhaustive approach to decide who we were going to offer a scholarship to at the quarterback position. Dom came in here and was head and shoulders above everybody else.”

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