Nov 19, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Allen Lazard (5) catches a pass in front of Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive back Justis Nelson (31) at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Red Raiders 66-10. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Allen Lazard was leaning towards returning to Iowa State for his senior season all along. Unless he had a monumental junior year, there was little chance the Cyclones’ star pass catcher would be making the jump to the National Football League.
That thought didn’t change after the Urbandale native put together one of the best statistical seasons by an Iowa State wide receiver. It didn’t change when Lazard was given a fifth-round or higher draft grade by people in the league.
That’s why on Friday, Lazard officially announced he would be returning for his final season in a Cyclone uniform.
“I really value coming back and finishing my degree,” Lazard said during a press conference on Friday. “Just being able to fulfill this entire process of going throughout the whole four years and just enjoying college and enjoy Cyclone Nation. Unless I had a tremendous year and I was going to go top round, top pick, I was more than likely going to stay.”
The 6-foot-5-inch, 223-pounder will enter his senior season within reach of several marks in the Iowa State record books. His 170 catches are seven short of breaking Todd Blythe’s record. His 2,419 receiving yards put him 677 yards away from passing Blythe’s record in that category, too.
Lazard will also be chasing Blythe’s program-record 31 career touchdown receptions. Despite the fact that Lazard is already second on the list, it would take a single-season school record number of scoring catches to break the record.
“Obviously, going into next year my goal is to be the first on all those lists,” Lazard said. “Obviously, that touchdown mark’s kind of a long shot. I’m going to do my best job. Might have to buy (Jacob) Park a few more meals in this offseason to get a few more balls, but, you know, he has a great record. He did it in less catches, too, I think. I’m only like six away from breaking the receiving record so I’m just grateful to be back and be able to go compete for that.”
Lazard will also have a chance to be the first player in school history to record back-to-back seasons with 1,000 receiving yards.
It would’ve been up in the air as to whether or not Lazard would’ve been able to make an impact on somebody’s draft board. Some teams likely would’ve valued him while others didn’t.
Now, he will to return to school and have a chance to make an impact that can leave a legacy — and open the eyes of NFL scouts.
“The reality of that is you don’t know,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said of Lazard’s draft grade. “It’s a crapshoot. I think Allen’s too good of a player to make it a crapshoot. He’s a guy that can be definitive in what he does and he has the ability to become. I think Allen’s got the tools to become a No. 1 receiver in the National Football League if he continues to develop and he continues to grow in his game. I think he knows that and I think we all saw that in the last five games. Maybe, him playing his best football that I’ve seen him play since I’ve been here. I think there’s a lot of that left to come.”