Recruiting Mailbag: Now What?

A busy day of recruiting inspired AllCyclones to host a mega recruiting mailbag. We touch on Signing Day drama, the next likely shoe to drop, impact freshmen and early contributors and the "steal" of the class

rhoadhoused: My biggest question would be the grayshirt situation with [Clearwater Countryside (FL) commit Mike] Johnson, as I thought that grayshirts were normally reserved for more under-recruited guys

First, let's go over what a grayshirt is, pulling a line from legendary Texas talent evaluator Randy Rodgers:

"Applied to the prospect that signs a letter of intent in February, but doesn't report in the fall with his teammates. He delays entry to college until midyear, i.e. January. That NCAA five-year clock doesn't start ticking until the player enrolls as a full time student, so gray-shirting is really a delayed version of red-shirting. Texas Tech, for instance, signed 34 players [one] February, but NCAA rules prevent them from enrolling more than 25 to start the fall. Some of those nine other players are gray-shirted this fall. They cannot enroll in college as full time students, can't receive their scholarship, nor practice. It is like getting an extra year of practice, because most of these players don't see the game field until two years later and they have the advantage of going through an extra spring practice."

So, why would Johnson, a three-star recruit, take this option? Well, he was down to Louisville and Marshall for his last visit, but to be honest that visit was probably going to be to Marshall, and if money isn't a major hurdle, greyshirting at Iowa State over normal enrollment at Marshall wins every time.

It's important to note I'm not reporting Johnson is absolutely going to take a greyshirt, but it is info I was given to on good authority. It'll probably depend how the next few weeks play out but Johnson seems on board with whatever.

Johnson would attend a local Junior College for one semester and continue to work out, then enroll at Iowa State in January of 2015. If he's signing with two other high school cornerbacks, it's not the worst idea. Johnson can create a year of eligibility difference between De'Monte Ruth and Brian Peavy, at least, and the Cyclones can enter the 2015 recruiting process with a talented cornerback in their hip pocket, waiting to enroll in January.

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cyfreak: A) Do you see any surprises good or bad come Signing Day? B) Do you think ISU will continue to go heavy on JUCOs the next few years or the foreseeable future? C) Any news regarding new hires for the remaining coaching slots? D) Besides Lazard who do you see being the biggest "get" or prize of the class?

A) At this point I can't think of any "bad" drama, with the staff feeling comfortable its prior commits are in for the long haul. I suppose there could be an 11th-hour decommitment. Even if there's bad academic news down the road, that won't be revealed until May.

Nobody who ISU is recruiting is likely to get enthralled in the hat dance, so Signing Day should be quiet. There will be a few more commits in the 2014 class but they will come before the big day.

B) Of the 10 guys featured on ISU's NFL wall at the Bergstrom Football complex, four came to Ames via JUCO. This isn't a new phenomenon, but you're correct, cyfreak, in pointing out this deviation from the normal.

Barring a decommitment, ISU will sign seven JUCO players and that number could swell to eight if the Cyclones ink David Moala or Antonio Guy. Per my understanding, the Cyclones don't suddenly fancy themselves the new Kansas State, but they will every year look to add a few hired JUCO guns, ready to step in immediately.

I think you saw so many this year because of a drop-off in depth and experience, where you'd have a position at, say, safety, where two players graduated and the next guys up (or the "ideal" starters) were very green T.J. Mutcherson and Kamari Cotton-Moya. To bridge that gap, the Cyclones hauled in Devron Moore and Qujuan Floyd.

Also, a few misses in recruiting from classes past or lack of development — I don't think Paul Rhoads would deny that — forced the Cyclones to hit the JUCO route. They ought to continue to do that whenever they find a player they believe can step in immediately.

C) I haven't heard anything. Mark Mangino's son, Tommy, has been reported as a possible hire, but there's been no news on that front. I'd be sort of surprised if anything happened before Signing Day (Feb. 5). Until then, the Cyclones have graduate assistants on the recruiting road.

D) Maybe because he doesn't do many interviews and so focus has been on Tommy Mister and the subsequent take of Michael Warren, but Martinez Syria doesn't get enough attention. The staff is very excited about Syria's potential, believing he can be a future workhorse back capable of playing all three downs.

Some other guys: ISU beat out a lot of schools for Devron Moore, punter Colin Downing could be a four-year starter, the talented Reggan Northrup could be a multi-year starter at safety or linebacker, weakside linebacker Sam Seonbuchner will need a redshirt season but has a very bright future and Cole Anderson, a center-to-be, will crack the two-deep after a redshirt season.

As for Warren, we have to consider him a steal, too, because he easily would have ended up at Oklahoma had the Sooners not taken five-star Joe Mixon.

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gold rule: Dumb question, but any chance Derek Day could get offered the defensive ends job left by Curtis Bray's passing?

Not a dumb question. Before Bray's death I had heard Day as a guy Rhoads was trying to find a spot for on staff. Day was a four-year starter at defensive end at Butler and is a very good recruiter, but the only concerns for him would be name recognition with prospective recruits and the ability to contribute heavily to a game plan and be solely responsible for coaching up players at a very important position.

Hiring from within to fill Bray's spot would definitely be an easy transition for the players and program culture.

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isufan32: Which players in the recruiting class that will sign next week have the best chance to contribute in 2014, other than the JUCOs already on campus?

All of the JUCO players will contribute. Allen Lazard is a candidate to play as a freshman, obviously, and then I think one of the running backs could get snaps. Downing is the favorite to win the starting job. It'll depend on how he performs in camp, but Brian Peavy has the chops to play at cornerback as a frosh, much like Nigel Tribune. Other than that, I'd expect a very high percentage of the freshmen to redshirt.

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shousea: Any ideas on early 2015 areas of focus for football recruiting?

Yes. Offensive line and defensive line will be major points of emphasis and the Cyclones have to add some high school defensive tackles. Florida product R.J. Harris is a candidate to watch there, while ISU has extended offers to two 2015 offensive tackles — Christian Gaylord and A.J. Harris — and I expect them to also offer Grant Schmidt, Drayton Carlberg and Quinn Oseland.

Mark Mangino will be selective with the 2015 quarterback take. Ryan Schlichte and Ryan Boyle are the names we see the most, but Mangino will take his time evaluating.

If Iowa State can land Hale Hentges, a Cyclones legacy and highly-coveted 2015 tight end, he'd be the biggest fish in the class.

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isupolaris: Just an update after this week's wave of recruits how we stand with scholarships offered and recruits we still have earmarked for them against the number already on the roster. Run a few scenarios with recent attrition and if we landed moala/guy/gooch/gray and how the numbers could be shuffled to work…

OK, let's give this a shot. First off, I've already reported Iowa State is no longer interested in Corry O'Meally, so we can expect the Cyclones to try and take one or two of the following:

  • LB Greg Gooch

  • CB/ATH J.T. Gray

  • DT David Moala

  • DT Antonio Guy

  • OLB Willie Harvey

  • OLB Xavier Preston

  • RB Marlon Mack

    There's probably a name out there we don't know about, so keep an eye open. It's unlikely ISU would place a priority on Mack after already having two running backs and the consensus is that Preston will remain solid to West Virginia.

    At minimum, there's one spot left. A true interior defensive lineman — Moala or Guy — makes the most sense. Gray is a special talent the Cyclones would love to get, but if Mississippi State has room for him, he'll go there.

    *Sidebar: If Gray was going to end up at Mississippi State, two hours down the road from his high school, you'd think that would have happened by now, you know? To have him in on the last weekend of official visits is very odd; if the Bulldogs saw the close-to-home Gray as a priority, he would've gotten to Starkville for an official much earlier and, in my opinion, would have already become a member of the 2014 class. So the Cyclones have a right to be optimistic about Gray.*

    Right now ISU is a little over 85 scholarships, accounting for this 24-man recruiting class, but judging this is an inexact science; surely there are players the staff knows is out the door or will take a medical scholarship. I wouldn't worry about the ability to add two more recruits. The current 2014 class is 24, but you can count three JUCOs back to the 2013 class and then count Mike Johnson toward 2015, if he takes a greyshirt.

    Sorry to not provide a clear answer to your question and do it in such a roundabout way. I'd guess an interior defensive lineman than either Gray or Gooch is most likely.


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