Cyclones sport a tough, talented tailback

Similar to Alabama, rushing the football has become a tradition for the Iowa State Cyclones. Sporting a thousand-yard rusher each of the past seven seasons, Ennis Haywood is just the latest in a long line of talented tailbacks. <br><br>"Their tailback is a good, hard runner," Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione said. "You certainly have to defend the run with them."

Iowa State's string of thousand-rushers runs back to 1995 and includes Troy Davis (2 seasons), Darren Davis (3 seasons) and now extends to Haywood. Only Wisconsin has a longer on-going streak.

Haywood (#2) scores a touchdown in the 2000 Bowl. (AllSport)

A two-time All-Big 12 performer, Haywood was the bell cow of the Cyclone offense in 2000, when his 1,237 yards helped lead Iowa State to a 9-3 record. After watching film of the Cyclones, Tide Defensive Coordinator Carl Torbush assessed the senior. "Haywood is a big, strong, physical running back. He'll remind you some of Ahmaad Galloway."

The comparisons are interesting. Both tailbacks led their teams in rushing and ranked among the conference leaders in that category. At 5-11, 220 pounds, Haywood is a strong runner, often choosing to run over rather than around would-be tacklers. Bama's Galloway is just a tad taller, and after countless hours in the weight room Galloway sports 225 pounds of muscle on his frame.

Both tailbacks will pick up the tough yards, and each is an effective blocker as well. "Haywood is right at six foot, 220 to 225," Torbush said. "He's strong, powerful and a good blocker."

Haywood's 1169 yards in 2001 was third in the Big 12 and 24th nationally. Interestingly, Galloway totaled 881 yards rushing, also placing him third in his conference. He finished up 53rd nationally.

At 14-to-6, Haywood has an edge in touchdowns scored, and his average per game was more than 20 yards ahead of Galloway. But the Tide junior does come out ahead on average gain per effort, 5.06 to 4.53.

In this year's Iowa game, Haywood looks to gain yardage. (Cyclone Illustrated)

Of course similarities aside, the Bama coaches are concerned about stopping the bruising Cyclone runner. Torbush explained; "He reminds me of that receiver at LSU (Josh) Reed. You'll think you're doing pretty good containing him, but then after the game he's got 140 yards rushing."

Due to an injury his final prep season, Haywood was not heavily recruited out of Dallas' Carter High School. But he saw extensive action as a collegiate backup before taking over as the Cyclone starter in 2000. He'll finish his career with 2,862 yards, good enough for fifth on the Iowa State all-time list.

"Haywood led their league as a junior," Torbush said. "And any time you're the leading rusher in the Big 12--any time you can gain 2,500 yards in two years in that league--it says a lot about your ability."

The Iowa State tailback was also one of eight finalist for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the top running back in the nation. Other players nominated were Bruce Perry, Maryland; Anthony Davis, Wisconsin; Leonard Henry, East Carolina; Larry Ned, San Diego State; Luke Staley, BYU; DeShaun Foster, UCLA; and Travis Stephens, Tennessee. Staley won the award, with Haywood coming in fifth.

And as a testament to his reliability, Haywood carried the football 258 times this season (an average of 23 times a game). But his paltry two fumbles lost ranked Iowa State No. 1 in the nation in that category. "He's an unselfish player. To only have two fumbles lost is something," Torbush said.

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