Who's the Best? Ranking Cyclone No. 8

Hidden in a 3-9 season was plenty of quality-to-elite talent. It's one man's list, but we've set off to rank Iowa State's best players, counting down from No. 50 all the way to No. 1. In this installment we rank player No. 8

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. 8: Dale Pierson, Defensive End, JR

This might seem high for someone who's never played a snap of FBS football, but consider the following about Dale Pierson.

  • Southern Cal made a serious push at the end for the three-star's services, but the academics did not line up.

  • Baylor called the week of Signing Day, having lost a member of its class, but Pierson did not take kindly to being seen as the Bears' backup plan and told them to forget about it.

  • Pierson's 11.5 sacks in 2013 tied for second in California among JUCO players.

  • The Cyclones were last in the Big 12 in sacks a year ago, with 15.

  • Three of the top seven players on this list — ISU's 50 best, most important or most indispensable, whatever — were JUCO transfers a season ago (list finalized before Rodney Coe was dismissed). E.J. Bibbs, Coe and Aaron Wimberly did it. Pierson can, too.

    The Cyclones need pass-rush help, which is why they signed four defensive ends from the JUCO ranks in 2014, Pierson being the cream of that crop. He's more than a sack-master, though, his 6-foot-2, 250-pound frame holding up on all downs.

    Iowa State received a sterling performance from Mitchell Meyers (No. 37 on the list) in its spring game, the redshirt sophomore racking up 3.5 sacks. But Paul Rhoads did not sign Pierson to sit on the bench. It might take a game or two — as it did with Bibbs and Wimberly — but it would be a major shock if Pierson isn't starting at defensive end by mid-September.

  • Pierson's Best Case Scenario: Picks up the scheme quickly after arriving in June and cracks the starting lineup before the season opener. Despite little help from the interior of ISU's d-line, Pierson becomes the Cyclones' best pass-rusher since Jason Berryman.

  • Pierson's Worst Case Scenario: Cory Morrissey locked in at one spot, Meyers trumps Pierson in fall camp, limiting Pierson's role.

  • Reason for the Ranking: The positional value of defensive end is tops on the defensive side of the ball, lifting Pierson into the top 10. Why is he ahead of Morrissey (No. 14)? Because he can get after the passer. ISU last season was terrible at generating pressure with four rushers and Wally Burnham was hesitant to blitz and take away help in pass protection. Word on the street is Burnham's got some tricks up his sleeve this year, including multiples fronts, but ISU will still need an end to manufacture pressure. Pierson — if he delivers — could be a game-changer.


    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.

  • 50: Brian Peavy

  • 49: Jevohn Miller

  • 48: Pierre Aka

  • 47: Joel Lanning

  • 46: Kamari Syrie

  • 45: Colin Downing

  • 44: Kamari Cotton-Moya

  • 43: Michael Warren

  • 42: Kenneth Lynn

  • 41: Justin Madison

  • 40: Duaron Williams

  • 39: Tad Ecby

  • 38: Tyler Brown

  • 37: Mitchell Meyers

  • 36: Gabe Luna

  • 35: Cole Netten

  • 34: Rob Standard

  • 33: Dondre Daley

  • 32: Wendell Taiese

  • 31: Jared Brackens

  • 30: T.J. Mutcherson

  • 29: Oni Omoile

  • 28: Trent Taylor

  • 27: Sam E. Richardson

  • 26: Devlyn Cousin

  • 25: Terry Ayeni

  • 24: Qujuan Floyd

  • 23: Jake Campos

  • 22: Allen Lazard

  • 21: Luke Knott

  • 20: Jamison Lalk

  • 19: Jacob Gannon

  • 18: Jordan Harris

  • 17: Grant Rohach

  • 16: D'Vario Montgomery

  • 15: David Irving

  • 14: Cory Morrissey

  • 13: Jarvis West

  • 12: Devron Moore

  • 11: Tom Farniok

  • 10: DeVondrick Nealy

  • 9: Sam B. Richardson

  • 8: Dale Pierson

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