There was a reason why Iowa State’s massive 6-foot-6, 236-pound wide receiver D’Vario Montgomery didn’t record a stat until the fourth game of his sophomore season. The former South Florida Bull transferred to Ames and simply didn’t get it.
What’s “it,” exactly?
Other than raw ability, pretty much everything that has to do with being a big time college football player.
Montgomery struggled mightily with the transition from South Florida to Iowa State but rebounded to somehow lead the Cyclones in receiving yards (605) while ranking only fourth on the team in receptions during his shortened sophomore campaign.
What’s in store for Montgomery in year two?
“Everything’s better about him,” Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino recently said. “He still has work that he has to do. There’s still some things about his game that need polished up and that’s the challenge we face, to get him prepared to do that.”
Nobody in Iowa State’s program knows Montgomery better than starting quarterback Sam Richardson. The two played high school ball together in Winter Park Florida, where Montgomery caught 96 passes for 1,162 yards and 21 touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons.
Richardson watched and ultimately helped Montgomery get on the straight and narrow in 2014. His season was highlighted with a nine catch, 100 yard performance at Texas on Oct. 11.
“He grew as much as he could from everything,” Richardson said. “It’s easy to throw it in the tank after something like that happens to you, especially the talent that he is, but I think he’s improved our team as much as when would have if he was on the field last year. He’s kind of taking it personal to talk to individual guys.”
He has grown physically too, as Mangino noted that Montgomery is in much better shape this camp compared to last.
More positives: Iowa State’s top playmaker from two seasons ago, Quenton Bundrage is back after tearing his ACL in last year’s season-opening loss to North Dakota State. Of course, there’s Allen Lazard. As long as the running game is somewhat respectable, Iowa State’s large wide receivers should provide a mismatch problem for most Big 12 defenses this year.
Barring a little luck with the offensive line on the injury front and the development of two young running backs, Iowa State’s passing game should improve across the board and if that happens, a fully-focused D’Vario Montgomery will have a lot to do with it.