It did not begin last recruiting season, when Nigel Tribune committed to Iowa State, withdrew and pledged to Indiana and then ended up signing with the Cyclones, but that's a good place to start when discussing the Iowa State-Indiana recruiting rivalry.
That the schools are members of different conferences makes this random, but each program is sort of in the same place: At a disadvantage against the bigger conference schools for elite recruits.
"I think that they're going after the same type of kid," Scout.com Midwest Analyst Allen Trieu says. "They're not gonna compete with Ohio State, Notre Dame for Midwest kids. They meet in the middle a lot, proximity-wise, where Bloomington and Ames are. They share much of the same recruiting footprint. ISU is coming into Indianapolis more and more. They're battling in Chicago. Florida for sure."
Florida. That's where things got real interesting last week at the home of Lyman linebacker Greg Gooch. When the Cyclones left Gooch's home, he was theirs. He didn't want to make it official until Monday because he wanted to do it on his mother's birthday. Said mother inquired about purchasing a box of Iowa State shirts. This. was. happening.
Two days later, the Hoosiers swooped in and linebackers coach William Inge swayed Gooch all the way to Bloomington.
Some more Indiana-Iowa State connections this year…
The Cyclones were able to hang onto Nigel Tribune and he might be a four-year starter at cornerback for them
What to Track in 2015
Win the Midwest. The Cyclones will always recruit Florida, Texas and California, but the last few years they've really been trying to strengthen the Midwest pipeline. Five of those commits in 2014, six in 2013, five in 2012; ISU would have had six this season had Tommy Mister not decommitted. You'll see them hit Chicago and Indianapolis with zeal, as Trieu alluded to, in 2015, because outside of a few prospects this next recruiting season doesn't promise much home-grown Iowa talent.
The new staff has Midwest connections — Mark Mangino coached at Kansas and Oklahoma, and those are 'Midlands' schools per our classification, but the name carries weight a few borders to the east — and you can expect them to make developing relationships with high school coaches in that area a priority.
One That Got Away
There are a number of guys each year, but up until the last week of open recruiting season the Cyclones had a great shot with J.T. Gray, the three-star Clarksdale (MS) athlete. Nobody — and I mean nobody — had any idea if Mississippi State would have room for Gray to join the class following his Jan. 31 official visit. If the Bulldogs didn't give him a scholarship, Gray would have committed to Iowa State and join former teammate Jordan Harris in Ames.
Nevertheless, it was a good effort for the Cyclones in the Deep South. They signed Harris and also had Elgton Jenkins (MSU commit) up for a visit with Gray. That helps in connections with coaching staffs in the area.
The Cyclones are bringing in a ton of offensive skill in this class, from two very good running backs to a receiving tight end to Allen Lazard and two receivers — Jauan Wesley and Orion Salters — who project as future game-breaking slot types. Give them a few years to grow and to learn, but I'd expect this haul to have a huge impact on the future of the program.
Terry Ayeni, to me, projects as a future three-technique defensive tackle, but the Cyclones are taking him as a defensive end right now, which means Signing Day comes without a JUCO defensive tackle. Iowa State tried, getting Terrell Clinkscales, Tarow Barney and Edmond Boateng on visits. It's the toughest position to recruit, given the lack of quality defensive tackles out there. At least the Cyclones nabbed Ayeni. If he has anything close to the first season Rodney Coe had in Ames following his JUCO season, it'll be a big success. The JUCOs are quick-fixes, so look for Iowa State in 2015 to make a high school tackle a priority.
Don't expect much, if any, drama for Iowa State on Signing Day. The Cyclones have 25 commits for the 2014 class. They can bring in a few more and make the numbers work, but the odds aren't great it happens tomorrow. The biggest "hurdle" I've heard is Scott Schaffner's school cancelled classes Wednesday in Missouri, so Schaffner will sign in the morning then drive over to the school and meet his high school coach there to fax it off, just so he can be present for it.
Stark difference for Iowa State from last February when Justin Madison and Robby Garcia came down to the wire and the Cyclones lost Davarez Bryant to Florida State on Signing Day.