DALLAS — During a 15 minute one-on-one interview session that I was able to snag with Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardsonon Tuesday at the Big 12’s media day, I asked him about the offensive line.
In general, Richardson gave a rather predictable answer but did seem rather excited about one guy in particular.
“I think that Wendell Taiese is a great addition to the starting lineup,” Richardson said. “He is a mean dude that is going to get in your face. I think that adds something to our line that we maybe didn’t have in the past couple of years. He is a mean dude who will come off the ball and just wreck people.”
Taiese, a monstrous 6-foot-6, 340-pound senior, came into Iowa State out of junior college last summer but saw the field sparingly. He spent that first year on campus flip-flopping between guard and tackle. He’s now found a home exclusively at guard.
“He is an NFL guard, I’ll tell you that much,” beamed Richardson. “He reminds me of Hayworth Hicks. He has really developed in our offseason program. He’s definitely a 400-pound bench. I love having him in front of me.”
Taiese is currently listed at second-string behind senior Oni Omoile in Iowa State’s most recent depth chart that was released on Monday. Starting or not, the big man will absolutely play in 2015.
Some important technique work still needs to be done but when asked about Taiese’s development, Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads more-a-less echoed Richardson’s praise.
“This offseason he started to figure out that work ethic does matter and that going hard every play does matter,” Rhoads said. “He still has to learn the importance of knee bend. Just because you are 340 doesn’t mean you are going to win every battle. You still have to be in a good leverage position and a good knee bend position. The low man still wins most of the time. As soon as he keeps on taking it further and realizes that and playing at that level, he could be dominant. He really could.”
Who will start at center?
There’s an "OR" between Jamison Lalk and Patrick Scoggins on Iowa State’s depth chart at center. Lalk, a seasoned senior, has played some center in the past but was exclusively listed as a guard this spring.
However Scoggins, a spring JUCO, still has a lot of learning to do at one of the most important positions on the field.
“The biggest thing holding Patrick back since he is arrive is that he hasn’t been a center,” Rhoads said. “Learning to snap and step and block is not that easy. That was Patrick’s greatest weakness in the spring. It wasn’t the blocking and staying on a guy. He does block and stay on people. That’s why we’d like to get his snapping at an accurate state so he can complete for that job.”