Matt Campbell talks about his mid-year signees

AMES — Matt Campbell deemed it a 5-for-5 mid-year signing day. 

 In other words …

“I think we felt like five was the magic number today and we hit it, because those were the guys that we really evaluated, we circled, and then those were the guys we were able to get, so I thought it was a great win for our staff today in terms of what we were looking for from a junior college standpoint,” ISU’s new head football coach said Wednesday afternoon.

The Cyclones announced Wednesday afternoon the signings of junior college tight end Cliff Fernandez, defensive backs Thadd Daniels and D’Andre Payne, and offensive linemen Karson Green and Oge Udeogu.

 Most of the five, Campbell said, can play more than one position.

Payne is a former four-star recruit who spent one season at Tennessee. Daniels also strongly weighed offers from schools such as Utah State and Purdue. 

“Both guys really give you position flexibility,” Campbell said. “Defensive backs, obviously in this conference are a premium and I think Thadd’s ability to play safety and corner really are what make him such a multi-dimensional threat in this whole thing. He was really probably target No. 1 in terms of trying to get him (to) be a part of our program and (Payne) is a guy that, really, we were a part of him, recruited him really early in the recruiting process when we were at Toledo. I love what he brings to the table in terms of ‘coverability.’ I think that’s what you’re always looking for, guys that can play man coverage. Can he be a nickel guy? Can he be a dime guy? Can he line up in the slot? And certainly with his length and ability to really run and cover, he can line up and play, whether it’s the field or boundary corner, I think he can cover guys at a really high rate and I think that’s one of the things we’re really excited about.”

Campbell stressed that these mid-year transfers will be looked at to provide depth, first and foremost, and progress from there.

“I think great football teams — the great teams that I’ve been around — have great depth,” Campbell said. “Obviously I don’t know what our depth looks like or feels like right now by any stretch of the imagination, but I think each guy that is coming in has got the ability to play and it will certainly be interesting to see where they fall in the mix.”

Both offensive line signees offer the “position flexibility” Campbell cited repeatedly.

Green, a 6-5, 290-pounder, stuck with ISU, he said, as bigger program tried to pry him away in the “24 to 48 hours” preceding today’s inking.

Udeogu (6-4, 310) chose ISU over offers from Houston and Louisville, among others.

“Again, position flexibility,” Campbell said. “And especially when you’ve got I think multiple areas were you’re seeing, ‘What’s that offensive line got coming back? Who’s coming back? What do we have in house?’ I think that’s huge and with Karson, that was another guy when, we’re going to build this offensive line through attitude and effort and toughness. That was the first thing that stood out.”

Campbell said the 15 spring practices these five will be afforded by signing at the mid-year point will put them on more or less the same plane as the Cyclones’ returning players.

They’ll be able to acclimate to ISU, both academically and athletically, before competing for playing time.

“These guys are little bit different because they’re kind of coming almost like our players in the program are right now,” Campbell said. “I don’t know if they have any idea what to expect here when they get back in January, but I think they all start at the same level. So for these young men coming in, a little different, but I think in a different circumstance, a different situation sometimes, when you come in mid year you get to ingrain yourself into the culture a little bit faster, so those 15 spring practices, getting ingrained into the culture I think gives you a little bit of a heads up.”

And a leg up, but the journey’s just getting started — for this year’s recruiting class and beyond.

“Obviously we’ve still got a long way to go in the recruiting process,” Campbell said. “I think we all know recruiting’s a day-by-day process and obviously a big signing day coming a little bit later.”

 Below, find ISU’s news release on the mid-year signees (courtesy ISU Athletics Communications): 

Oge Udeogu 

Offensive Line
6-4, 310, Jr.
Imo, Nigeria (Saint Viator [Arlington Heights, Ill.]/City College of San Francisco)

City College of San Francisco

Pronounced OH-gay oo-DAH-goo … Chose Iowa State over Houston, Louisville and others … three-star recruit by Scout, Rivals and 247Sports … ranked No. 79 on Scout’s top-100 JC prospects … listed as the 17th-best junior college offensive tackle by 247Sports … ranked No. 137 overall among junior college players by 247Sports … two-year starter on a team which won back-to-back conference and Northern California championships … team won the 2015 California state championship with a 26-14 win against Saddleback … team finished with a 12-1 record … team ranked 8th in the state in scoring (35.4) and 11th in total offense (457.1) … coached by Jimmy Collins.

High School

Born in Chicago, but grew up in Imo, Nigeria … moved back to Chicago area where he played two seasons at Saint Viator High School in Arlington Heights, Ill. … coached by Brandon New and Chris Kirkpatrick.


Born Nov. 27, 1994 … son of Raphael and Mary Udeogu … undecided on a major.

Campbell on Udeogu:

“Oge is a big, strong, powerful offensive lineman. He grew up playing soccer, but now obviously 300 pounds later, he’s a big, powerful, strong, young man. This is a huge get for us. He’s a young man that I think will be an automatic challenger for a starting spot on the offensive line. His team won the national championship this year in junior college football. He knows how to win and certainly a young man that brings some interesting tangibles. He’s really strong, very powerful, and I think a man that has high-end ability and can certainly play at this level.”

Clifford Fernandez 

Tight End
6-5, 260, Jr.
Sandy Hook, Miss. (Dexter/Southwest Mississippi CC)

Southwest Mississippi CC

Chose Iowa State over USF and others … three-star recruit by 247Sports … listed as the 12th-best junior college tight end by 247Sports … switched to tight end for his sophomore season … had 20 catches for 188 yards … competed on the basketball team in 2014-15, playing 21 games … averaged 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds … coached by Tucker Peavey.

High School

Three-time all-district selection at QB … three-time team MVP … twice passed for over 2,300 yards in a season … as a junior, led the conference in passing TDs with 21 … was conference MVP in basketball as one of the top rebounders in the state … coached by Randy Sumrall.    


Born March 11, 1995 … son of Margaret Fernandez and grandson of Julia Gould … intends on majoring in communications.

Campbell on Fernandez:

“Clifford is a young man who had taken his visit to Iowa State before we had gotten here but, even when we were at Toledo, we had known about. He came highly recruited right at the end of this recruiting process, but his loyalty to Iowa State stood firm. He was blown away by the Iowa State community, and certainly really blown away with the academic setup we have, which was really the final selling point. He is 6’ 5”, 260 pounds and a guy that’s got a really good upside at the tight end position. He has a great passion for the game of football. He also played basketball a year ago, so I think you will see a lot of athletic ability in him. We can’t wait to get him into our strength and conditioning program, and we are really excited to see what he is able to bring to the table. He is very intelligent and a very physical football player, and I think once he gets here, we will see his ability right away.”

Karson Green 

Offensive Line
6-5, 295, Jr.
Madill, Okla. (Madill/Northeastern Oklahoma A&M)

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M

Chose Iowa State over Middle Tennessee State, New Mexico, Houston and East Carolina … two-year starter… earned honorable mention All-SWJCFC honors in 2015… coached by Ryan Held.

High School

Four-year starter on the offensive line … two-time all-district selection … team won the 2012 Class 3A-4 District title with an 11-1 record … team advanced to the playoffs in three of his four seasons … also lettered in power lifting, baseball and basketball … coached by Milton Cooper.   


Born March 14, 1996 … son of Keith Green and Kasie King… intends on majoring in kinesiology … cousin, Kyle Nelson, is a tight end for the San Francisco 49ers … member of the National Honor Society. 

Campbell on Green:

“Karson was a qualifier out of high school. He grew up in small-town Oklahoma and is a young man who loves football. He has really reshaped his body. He was almost 345 pounds and now he’s down to 290 pounds. He was really sought after here the last six days. He comes from a great family and has the attributes we are looking for on the offensive line: attitude, effort, toughness. He can play both tackle spots and also has the athletic ability to play center as well. We are excited that he said yes to us, and he’s a guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder. He was looking for an opportunity to come in and compete right away. It will be a huge six months for him as he continues to develop his body and strength, but he has already done a great job with that.”

D’Andre Payne 

Defensive Back
5-10, 190, RSo.
Washington, D.C. (HD Woodson/Arizona Western CC)

Arizona Western CC

Played his freshman season at Tennessee (2014) before transferring to Arizona Western CC (2015) where he sat out as a redshirt … played in eight games, totaling four tackles in his freshman season with the Vols.

High School

Four-star recruit by Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 247Sports … picked Tennessee over offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia, Florida State, Stanford, Auburn and Clemson … member of the ESPN 300 … rated as the 18th-best cornerback by 247Sports, No. 19 by Rivals, No. 21 by ESPN and No. 22 by Scout … the unanimous No. 2 prospect out of the District of Columbia … named the 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year in Washington D.C. … first team All-Met by the Washington Post in 2012 and 2013 …two-time first-team all-conference selection … as a senior, played on both sides of the ball while accounting for 11 touchdowns … made 70 tackles and picked off four passes … also ran for 356 yards and caught 16 passes for 396 yards … named MVP of the Turkey Bowl with a 60-yard TD catch … also set up TDs with an interception and a long punt return … named MVP of the DCSAA state championship game with a TD … as a junior, scored a TD on offense, defense and special teams, including four punt returns for TDs … had four interceptions … coached by Steven Scott.    


Born May 17, 1996 … son of Walter Payne and Ashia Dohawk … as a 10-year old in 2006, won a gold medal in the 200-meter at the U.S. Track and Field Junior Olympics … intends on majoring in kinesiology. 

Campbell on Payne:

“What I love about D’Andre is his competiveness. I think what you’re going to see from this young man is a high-end competitor and a guy that has tremendous coverage skills who can cover both in the slot and can go outside. He has great length even though his height may not show it. He has a long wingspan and his cover ability is elite. He’s a guy that brings true competitiveness and knows how to win. He’s a young man that I’m really excited about. He brings toughness and depth to our secondary, and has the skills to match up with receivers all over the field.”

Thadd Daniels 

Defensive Back
6-2, 200, RJr.
Compton, Calif. (Lynwood/Cerritos CC)

Cerritos CC

Chose Iowa State over Brigham Young, Utah State, Purdue, Illinois and Utah … three-star recruit by Rivals, Scout and 247Sports … ranked as the No. 5 junior college safety and 87th nationally by 247Sports … as a sophomore in 2015, posted 29 tackles, two TFL and one interception … led the team with eight pass breakups … team finished 8-3 and won the National Division Northern Conference title … redshirted in 2014 after suffering an injury … as a freshman in 2013, tallied 26 tackles, eight pass breakups and an interception … coached by Frank Mazzotta.

High School

Competed in football, basketball and track and field … as a senior, caught 35 passes for 599 yards and nine touchdowns … also rushed for 93 yards and two TDs … played in the 605 All-Star Football Classic.  


Born Nov. 4, 1995 … son of Angela Martindale … undecided on a major.

Campbell on Daniels:

“If you would have been there when he called and said yes to our recruiting room, you would have seen the recruiting room shake. That’s how excited we were. Thadd is a young man that embodies what you look for in terms of secondary play. He gives us some versatility. He can play safety and corner, and is a really strong, physical football player. He’s a guy that can play multiple positions and is very mature beyond his years. His father passed away two years ago and has taking over many family responsibilities. He has kind of been a father figure to his mother and his brothers and sisters. He’s just a young guy that has a passion to be elite. I’d say that in the secondary it’s a lot like recruiting a quarterback today in the game of football. Those guys have to be special. They have to be communicators, they have to do a great job getting guys lined up and also have a passion for themselves, and Thadd has that.”


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.