The Cyclones open preseason practice on Monday, Aug. 4. To get you ready for the season, AllCyclones.com will be gauging the depth at every position on the roster. In this installment, we turn our attention to the "X" receiver, or split end.
The Leader:Quenton Bundrage
The 6-foot-2 Bundrage turned a promising freshman season into a dream sophomore campaign: 48 receptions, 676 yards, nine touchdowns, an average of 14 yards per catch. Considering Bundrage tied a school record for receiving scores in a year, it's not realistic to expect him to match those exact numbers, but Bundrage can still become a better player. Drops are the issue for him (three in the spring game) and it seems it's a matter of focus, rather than skill, because Bundrage can make the difficult catch look easy at other times. He needs to become a more willing blocker, too, and a more precise route-runner. All that aside, Bundrage is a tremendous outside weapon to take the top off the defense. If he proves his hands are reliable and he becomes a willing target, the Cyclones could send Bundrage across the middle with frequency. Not a bad wideout for Mark Mangino to inherit in his first year.
The Wildcard: D'Vario Montgomery
At 6-foot-5 and 212 pounds, Montgomery is one of ISU's two biggest wideouts. And expectations within the program are huge. As a freshman at USF, Mongtomery caught six balls for 65 yards, a downer after a remarkable career at Winter Park High, where he was the favorite target of one Sam B. Richardson, catching 96 passes for 1,662 yards and 21 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons, combined. Montgomery had an OK redshirt year at Iowa State in 2013, which he was forced to sit out per NCAA transfer rules, the type of year that non-contributing players are apt to turn in: Glimpses of talent, but a bit unfocused. By all accounts, Montgomery had an impressive spring camp and carried that momentum into the summer workouts. In Montgomery, the Cyclones essentially have two starters at split end, and if you throw Allen Lazard into the mix, they have a terrifying batch of tall pass-catchers to employ in the red zone. The ultimate hope is that Montgomery performs well enough when the lights come on that he and Bundrage are interchangeable.
The Future: Allen Lazard
Perhaps the most important signee in Paul Rhoads' time at Iowa State, Lazard arrived on campus this summer without ego and ready to get after it. The biggest concern regarding Lazard is his transition from Urbandale competition to ISU competition, but Lazard added weight this summer — which will aid him in getting off jams at the line of scrimmage — and did nothing to disappoint in summer 7-on-7 drills. His future is at split end but until some space is cleared there, it's expected that he'll get snaps as an inside receiver.
The Cyclones signed Lazard in 2014. It'll be a shock if he redshirts. As far as 2015 split ends go, the Cyclones are the favorites for Casady (OK) three-star wideout Denver Johnson, who visited the campus in June and wants to shut down his recruitment in the next few weeks.