Cyclones fans are already getting excited about Paul Rhoads' 2014 recruiting crop, which exceeded expectations and held on to most of its top targets despite a 3-9 season.
The buzzkill, though, is many of the incoming freshmen will get a redshirt year then take a season or so to crack the two-deep.
And so on a day we spend looking at the now let's share a moment with the past — specifically, the 2011 recruiting class — as it has a greater effect on the immediate future.
Of the 22 players who signed that year, seven are no longer at Iowa State (Steele Jantz, Aaron Horne and Ernst Brun were notable JUCOs).
Eleven either started multiple games or at least received starters minutes last season and they could all contribute in 2014:
Brock Dagel and Quenton Bundrage are offensive cornerstones, while quarterback Sam Richardson had glimpses early on before injuries sapped his confidence. Richardson will have a good chance to win the QB derby this spring. DeVondrick Nealy will share carries out of the backfield, Oni Omoile and Jamison Lalk could be the starting right and left guards, Tad Ecby is treading water in a deep wide receiver rotation, David Irving flashed in 2013 at defensive tackle but was also arrested and charged with sexual assault (charges were dismissed in January), Jevohn Miller and Jared Brackens will battle for starting jobs at linebacker and Sam Richardson will compete at cornerback.
Throw in upstarts like Rob Standard — who many believe is ready to step into the Jeff Woody role while providing more versatility — and Kenneth Lynn, and it's a class that looks to have surpassed its 2012 ranking as No. 76 overall, especially if Richardson can establish himself as a top-tier starting quarterback in the Big 12.
Seven, plus 11, plus two … makes 20. So what about the other two? It appears Darian Cotton will be a scout team/special teams contributor as he's been passed up by younger players while Devin Lemke played in seven games on special teams in 2013, his first year of action after a redshirt 2011 and a 2012 gone to injury. Lemke will be a candidate for a medical redshirt if he wants one, effectively making the defensive end a sophomore.