STANZ: Iowa State already looking toward 2023 after signing 2022 class

Oct 30, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell along the sidelines late in the fourth quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State is prepared to put the 2022 recruiting cycle in the rearview.

That’s the message Matt Campbell gave on Wednesday after announcing the program’s signing of 20 high schoolers and two transfers in its 2022 recruiting class, which ranks among the top-30 nationally by all the primary recruiting services.

Iowa State will keep its options open leading up to the second signing period in early February. They will evaluate any potential additions that could improve the Cyclones’ roster for the 2022 season.

But, as of now, Campbell is ready to turn attention towards the next recruiting cycle and assembling the program’s 2023 class.

“I think really our mindset will kind of be full-throttle going to the 2023 recruiting class,” Campbell said. “Obviously, we’ll evaluate where we are and as we get ready and closer to January, make sure that the team that’s coming back is certainly the right group. Where we’re at, where we’re going and you know if there is anybody else that we would bring in for the 2022 team, we’ll make sure it’s a great fit, but I think we feel really confident today.”

It is easy for Campbell to feel confident when his program just signed its best class ever. The class is headlined by a quartet of in-state talent from some of Iowa’s best high school programs, including Class 3A state champion Harlan (linebacker Will McLaughlin) and Class 4A state champ Council Bluffs, Lewis Central (defensive lineman Hunter Deyo).

Those two are joined by Sergeant Bluff-Luton linebacker Jacob Imming and Cedar Rapids, Prairie tight end Gabe Burkle to make up one of the program’s best in-state hauls during Campbell’s tenure.

“You’re talking about getting guys from programs that understand what it takes to be successful and know how to win,” Campbell said. “(They) are able to bring those qualities to Iowa State and continue to infuse our locker room with those very qualities.”

Those are the qualities Campbell and his staff put a significant emphasis on while assembling the class. They’re looking for guys who have been part of winning programs — and guys who are willing to put the team above themselves.

That second point is especially crucial in today’s world of college football as the conversation surrounding players profiting off their name, image and likeness hit an apex on Wednesday when Georgia cornerback Travis Hunter, widely considered to be the No. 1 player in this year’s class, flipped his commitment from ACC powerhouse Florida State to FCS Jackson State, which is coached by former FSU and NFL superstar Deion Sanders.

Hunter’s shocking flip was soon followed by rumors of him agreeing to a significant NIL deal with the content company Barstool Sports, which produces a docuseries, Coach Prime, detailing the inner workings of Sanders’ program at Jackson State.

That’s the world of college football on the biggest scale, but, at Iowa State, they’re still focused on those previously mentioned characteristics rather than playing whatever games college athletics’ new rules allow.

“I don’t know if (NIL) came up a whole heck of a lot in Ames, Iowa or at Iowa State,” Campbell said. “For us, our program, our culture is about the team. If you’re about the team, then you stay the course and you continue to believe that no one is ever bigger than than the team. We continue to do a great job with our first and foremost process of being about the team.”

“That doesn’t mean that we don’t have guys that have engaged (in) and have had opportunities to profit off their name, image and likeness. I think that’s awesome. But as long as it’s done through the process of the team, those are the things that continue to be really important to me in our program. I’m probably a dinosaur. Even though I know, I’m young. I still believe that we play a great team sport and the team is really important to the success of everybody.”

While NIL took center stage on Wednesday across the country, the swirling winds of change brought on by the transfer portal and players’ ability to be immediately eligible at their next school after their first transfer still surrounded the conversation.

Iowa State has navigated those waters well in recent years, landing a handful of players that have made significant impacts on the program even if their time in Ames was short.

That’s the staff’s hope again this year after landing Delaware transfer linebacker Colby Reeder and Minnesota transfer defensive end MJ Anderson. Also, don’t be shocked to see Iowa State continue to mine the transfer portal to upgrade or supplement depth at other positions as this offseason progresses.

While other coaches have used their time in front of microphones to lament about the damage the portal has done to the sport of college football, Campbell acknowledged it is a significant change that, when used correctly, can help programs just as much as it can the players utilizing it.

“It’s new, and it’s unique. I think it (requires) an adaption,” Campbell said. “You’re going to lose players, and you hate for that to happen, but that’s part of our new world. The mentality from our end really hasn’t changed. It’s always continuing to get guys that align first and foremost with who we are, what our culture is and what it stands for.”

The fact that Iowa State was able to fill the majority of those needs with guys who fit the criteria Campbell mentioned makes this next two-month span an easier one to navigate for a staff that still has to prepare for the Cheez-It Bowl against Clemson on Dec. 29 in Orlando.

While other programs are still looking to fill significant holes through the portal or complete a 2022 high school class that didn’t hit all the areas of need, Iowa State will have the option of being selective, knowing they’re in a pretty dang good spot with the 22 guys that put their name to paper on Wednesday.

They can also turn their attention towards the 2023 recruiting class — and start working towards carrying the momentum of assembling the most highly-touted class in program history by trying to build an even better one.

“I think the first couple years, we were trying to figure out and cell, maybe hope and a vision (for) a program,” Campbell said. “I think the reality of what we’ve had the ability to become over the last three football seasons has allowed our coaching staff to go out and get some of the top-notch players that have been on our board. We’ve been able to identify and create real authentic relationships with these young people and their families and create a great trust and a great bond through the recruiting process. I think that’s always helped us, but especially over the last two years with our ability to have an extended amount of time to create those relationships, and to create those relationships on a reality of what our program has become both on and off the field. I think that’s really been big for us.”

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.