The Ames (IA) running back set a state 4A record with 2,806 yards rushing last season, with 40 total touchdowns, but was only extended a scholarship offer by FCS Montana State. At 5-foot-8, Kwah-Mensah understands why.
But after announcing Sunday he'd decided to accept a Cyclones offer to be a preferred walk-on with the football team in the fall — guaranteeing his scholarship spot — Kwah-Mensah is ready to work his way up from scout team to rotational player, much like Jeff Woody.
"Absolutely [I have] a chip," Kwah-Mensah told AllCyclones.com on Monday. "That's definitely how I'm looking at it. I know I have to work harder than everyone else. Paul Rhoads is big on [opportunities]. I thought about that.
"Coming in and working hard and earning my scholarship, I thought about that a lot. That's one of those things that triggered me to make my decision: If I come in and work hard, things will pay off."
Two weeks ago Iowa State assistant Shane Burnham told Kwah-Menshah he had a spot on the team as a preferred walk-on if he wanted it.
Kwah-Menshah said he has yet to apply to Iowa State, but isn't worried about any roadblocks.
"I know I'm gonna get in, I still have to apply," he said. "That shouldn't be a problem."
The Cyclones carry 85 scholarship players on a team and about 45-50 walk-ons. Per year, that's 10-15 walk-on players, many who are tryouts. A preferred walk-on has his spot on the roster guaranteed and doesn't have to try out.
Kwah-Mensah could have had one, too, somewhere else, but he wanted to attend the school he grew up rooting for.
"I decided Iowa State was where I wanted to go, where I think I fit better," Kwah-Mensah said. "I know I was turning down scholarship money but I wanted to pursue where I wanted to go."