It’s not every year that an Iowa State offense loses as many weapons as it did this off-season.
Driven by a considerable loss in production with the departures of tight ends Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen, Iowa State is looking for more from some of its returning veterans in the receiving room.
“All of the sudden, some of our most experienced guys are in the receiving room,” wide receivers coach Nate Scheelhaase said. “So, we’re going to find ways to utilize those guys and still be multiple as an offense. We’ve got a lot of confidence in those guys because of what they’ve already done for us.”
There’s reason for optimism in the early stages of camp, and although Darren Wilson and Daniel Jackson have each shown flashes of talent in Ames, the Cyclones will be calling on them a lot more this season.
It comes at a time when each of them is as healthy as they’ve been, too.
“Daniel Jackson has had good moments and moments where he’s flashed,” Scheelhaase said Monday. “Injuries have kind of hampered him a bit (in past years), but now he’s healthy. He made a bunch of plays yesterday in the red zone.”
Wilson is in the same shape, and happened to score the position group’s first touchdown of fall camp.
“Darren (Wilson) has played a lot of games and started a lot of games here,” Scheelhaase said. “I think this off-season – for the first time, he’s been consistently healthy. Our first big passing touchdown of fall camp was Darren Wilson running down the right sideline.”
The optimism in the mindset of Scheelhaase comes from all over.
Sean Shaw will help compliment the group built around star centerpiece Xavier Hutchinson, and rising star sophomore Jaylin Noel. Colorado transfer Dimitri Stanley will play a part. Not to mention true freshman Greg Gaines III.
It’s part of the culture shift that has taken place in Ames since Campbell and his staff arrived.
“We’re trying to get good players that fit our culture and fit what we’re trying to do,” Scheelhaase said. “It’s not necessarily a philosophy of, ‘let’s go and find four receivers…’ no. We evaluate really good players that fit our program and I think what you see is players that are even at a higher caliber continuing to believe in our program, Coach Campbell and what we’ve done on the field.”
The group is set to be as competitive as it’s been in recent memory and that’s a great thing for Iowa State.
Fans will soon find out if it comes to fruition.
“There’s a different level of player that we’re bringing in,” Scheelhaase said.
Iowa State opens the season Saturday, September 4 against Southeast Missouri (1:00 p.m. ESPN+) at Jack Trice Stadium.