The debate's getting serious.
AllCyclones.com listed Iowa State's best 50 players for 2014 earlier, Nos. 50-26 — using production, potential, positional value and a little bit of by-the-gut reasoning.
Now we get to the nitty-gritty, beginning our one-by-one countdown of No. 25 to No. 1, a task that'll run through Spring Football.
The envelope, please ...
No. 23: Jake Campos, Offensive Tackle, FR
Everyone I've talked to suggested former four-star Jake Campos met or exceeded expectations during his redshirt season on the scout team. As dire as the Cyclones' offensive line situation got, though, the coaches held off plugging Campos into the lineup, knowing intact eligibility and continued, low-pressure grooming would pay off down the road.
Is now the time? A year under his belt — albeit a year in a system that's no longer being used — should be enough to allow the 6-foot-7 Campos to make a run at either offensive tackle spot, with Jacob Gannon's post at right tackle much more vulnerable than Brock Dagel on the left.
Bring up Campos around any staff member and the immediate talking point is the strength of his base (ie, legs, butt) and how he's able to maintain a sturdy anchor in pass protection, even though some 6-foot-7-and-more types tend to play a bit too high.
Campos is most definitely a star in the making. Whether he's a four-year or three-year starter depends on how he does this spring.
It is with caution that I dip my toe into what will likely be choppy waters. Ranking Iowa State's 50 best players is an arduous task. With a number that allows for the two-deep (22 on each side) plus a few, any omission might be construed as an insult. That's not at all what I set out to do here. I wanted to locate and then rank the most valuable Cyclones for the 2014 football season. Read that again. For the 2014 football season. Not from last season. Or for 2017. How'd I do this? I looked at production, sure, and of course I looked at short-term potential — can this player contribute in 2014, and at what level?
Phone calls were made, brains were picked, contributions considered. I tried to think like an NFL executive: Quarterback, offensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback are by many accounts the most important positions in football, but I didn't always obey that rule, not unless the talent stacked up. I went back to my notes for the first and second watches of all the 2013 games, but those were last season's schemes, at least on offense, and I project the change to Mark Mangino's scheme will shake things up.