RECRUITING: Will defensive back flip from Cal to ISU?

Michael Onyemaobi didn’t know much about Iowa State before his phone conversation with defensive backs coach DK McDonald in late-February. The three-star defensive back knew the Cyclones were in the Big 12 and a big-time college football program — that was about it.

That 30-minute conversation with McDonald, which ended with Onyemaobi receiving a scholarship offer, started to open the 6-foot-1-inch, 187-pound prospect’s eyes to Cyclone football.

“To tell you this right here, not a day in my life did I ever wake up thinking I was going to go to Iowa State University,” Onyemaobi told Cyclone Fanatic over the phone on Monday. “Not a day in my life did I ever think I’d receive an offer from Iowa State University. So it is definitely incredible having the opportunity to be recruited by these guys.”

The eye-opening process continued when Onyemaobi, who is currently committed to Cal, took an official visit to Ames for Iowa State’s game against Baylor on Sept. 30. He was impressed by the atmosphere and said he was surprised to see the loyalty of the Iowa State fanbase.

On Monday night, another step in the process took place when McDonald and running backs coach Lou Ayeni visited the No. 54 prospect in California, according to 247 Composite, in his home in Temecula, Calif.

“We talk on a daily basis, me and the entire staff, so it was more reiteration of everything that we’ve really been talking about,” Onyemaobi said. “More just getting my parents filled in with it all. Talking about the academic aspect of things as well as a little bit of football and after football in terms of what I want to do with my career and stuff.”

Onyemaobi, who plans to become a collegiate coach once his playing career is over, also holds offers from Arizona State, Washington State, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho and UCLA. He said he plans to take all five of his official visits, which includes the one to Iowa State in September, after he gets through his academic semester that ends in three weeks.

With that said, his final decision will likely come down to the Golden Bears and the Cyclones.

“In all honesty it will come down to my Cal official and my Iowa State trip that I already took,” Onymaobi said. “It’s going to be a gut feeling. It’s going to come down to, of course, what’s best for me and my family and prayer, of course, because, at the end of the day, both programs do see eye-to-eye about what they can both provide for me. Athletically and academically with what I want to do after football so it really does come down to just that feeling in my gut of knowing where I want to go.”

Iowa State is likely to try to add a few more defensive backs to its class that already includes Mississippi safety Kam White, Michigan cornerback Richard Bowens and Florida corner Datrone Young. Onyemaobi will be one of the staff’s top priorities when it comes to filling those remaining spots in the class.

There’s no doubt Iowa State has already made a solid impression him.

“My big thing was the atmosphere. It was incredible coming to a big game like against Baylor, a big program also in the Big 12,” Onymaobi said. “Getting a chance to watch them go heads up and seeing those 60,000 loyal fans that are out there every single Saturday. Also, getting a chance to sit down with the academic team and see the kind of support I’m going to be receiving in the classroom from that end of things. Of course, with a student-athlete life isn’t easy on the collegiate level so that was also great.”

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.