Dec 30, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Hakeem Butler (18) carries the ball against Memphis Tigers defensive back Jonathan Cook (14) during the second half in the 2017 Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.Iowa State Cyclones defeated the Memphis Tigers 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa State has apparently improved its stock entering the 2018 football season in the eyes of USA Today. One of the nation’s largest news organizations has included the Cyclones in their post-spring practice top-25 at No. 22, up two spots from No. 24 in their way-too-early rankings earlier this year.
“After taking a major leap last season,” USA Today’s Paul Myerberg wrote. “Iowa State aims for another step up the Big 12 Conference ladder in 2018.”
Myerberg unsurprisingly ranks defending national champion Alabama as his No. 1 team at this point in the offseason. Oklahoma (No. 7), TCU (No. 8), West Virginia (No. 19) and Oklahoma State (No. 23) are other Big 12 teams represented in the rankings.
The writer lists the biggest question for each team as their enter their summer workouts with the Cyclones’ coming in the shape of the receiving corp.
“The receiver corps has a strong top option in junior Hakeem Butler,” Myerberg wrote. “But the Cyclones need depth to effectively run Matt Campbell’s scheme.”
Obviously, to someone looking from the outside on the national scene, replacing Allen Lazard will probably be the biggest concern for Iowa State’s offense next season. But, folks who follow Iowa State closely know about Matt Eaton, DeShaunte Jones and the host of young pass catchers within the program who are expected compliment Butler in 2018.
More than 100 days still remain before Iowa State kicks off against South Dakota State this fall, but it has become even more clear expectations will likely be higher than ever for the Cyclones next season.