The debate's getting serious.
AllCyclones.com began listing ISU'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. 16:D'Vario Montgomery, Wide Receiver, SO
The jewel of Iowa State's 2014 recruiting class was Allen Lazard, part of a hyped bunch of wide receivers set to arrive in Ames this summer, including three-star slot Jauan Wesley.
A banner Signing Day for the Cyclones had all the trimmings, head coach Paul Rhoads dropping some quickly-viral sound bytes and waving around Lazard's LOI like the severed head of William Wallace.
In August, it was with less fanfare the Cyclones announced the addition of South Florida transfer D'Vario Montgomery in a press release.
If he can scrape expectations in 2014 after sitting out the 2013 season, Montgomery, himself a former four-star receiver, could be the Big 12's Newcomer of the Year.
"I just want to be a big factor in the offense," Montgomery said in March.
He'll have a chance to do just that, his eligibility made good at just the right time. New offensive coordinator Mark Mangino has in the past employed five-wide sets. Sam Richardson, a former teammate at Winter Park High in Florida, could be ready to make the jump from fringe starter to game-changing QB. An ultra-productive receiver in high school (51 catches, 562 yards and six scores as a senior), the coaches are eager to get Montgomery into the lineup to give the Cyclones a big-play jolt and send defensive coordinators into fits.
Montgomery will have to earn that spot, though, with plenty of capable receivers vying for snaps.
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.