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. 13: Jarvis West, Wide Receiver/Returner, SR
In hindsight, perhaps it's poor form to slap a No. 13 ranking — the unluckiest of numbers — on a player who was plagued by bad fortune last season.
Just as Jarvis West was getting going, swinging games in the passing and return game, the MCL Gods inflicted their will, as they already had to Tom Farniok, Jamison Lalk and Ben Boesen.
West missed four games and returned for the finale against West Virginia, only to catch one pass for minus-three yards.
Total production was light for West as a junior (15 catches, 105 yards, a touchdown, and a 95-yard kick return for a score), and he was at times invisible — one catch vs NIU, two versus Iowa, one in a close loss to Texas. It was a slight disappointment after his 31-catch sophomore campaign, but then again consider the action missed and QB struggles.
West says his knee is fine now and he's ready to roll in a revamped offense that features one of the Big 12's best receiving corps.
As a slot receiver, West is adept at carving out space and pulling "slot" defenders across the field. He's got a knack for the tough catch — he saved Sam Richardson on a long third down against Tulsa, reaching for a low ball off his shoelaces, as pictured above — and is a compact, slippery threat after the catch.
The latter attributes make for a dangerous return man. The Cyclones might exercise caution in 2014, giving West breaks on special teams so as not to over-work him, but they might as well get him whatever touches in space they can.
And that doesn't include the damage West can do off jet sweeps and whatever tricks Mark Mangino comes up with.
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.