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 "Z" receiver, or flanker.
Projected Starter: P.J. Harris, So., Groveland (FL)
Projected Backup: Dondre Daley, So., Tarpon Springs (FL)
Other Players: Tad Ecby, Jr., Houston (TX); Brandon Harris, rFr., Cedar Hill (TX); Jauan Wesley, Fr., Markham (IL)
The Leader:P.J. Harris
Harris' fluidity after the catch and in his route-running makes him a nice candidate to play flanker, which calls for a mix of vertical routes and intermediate concepts. After a quiet redshirt freshman season — seven receptions for 67 yards — Harris starred in the spring game, catching four passes and picking up a first down on a sweep, reversing direction in the backfield.
The Wildcard:Tad Ecby
What happened to Ecby last season? 14 receptions in the first three games and then eight in the final nine. At the end of the year, Ecby had given way to Dondre Daley. Each player was injured during a period of spring practice, which ought to reset the competition for backup flanker. Daley is more athletic with better upside but Ecby has proven himself to be a reliable possession receiver. If he can be more like the August/September Tad than the October/November Tad, it'll give the Cyclones yet another option in the passing game.
The Future: Jauan Wesley
Harris has three seasons of eligibility left, so he's a major plan for Iowa State's flanker future moving forward, but we've touched on his game already, so let's give this nod to incoming freshman Jauan Wesley, who has the skill set of a true slot receiver but has the size to play flanker, at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds. Wesley has been a standout in 7-on-7 drills and even though depth is shaky at flanker, he'll almost certainly use a redshirt in 2014.
Iowa State is recruiting Nimitz (TX) receiver Darrell Stewart, who profiles as a flanker. The Cyclones appear to be sitting pretty for split end Denver Johnson but if they only take two wideouts in the class, it might make more sense to take an "F" slot receiver, because the depth there is worse than any other receiver position. The Cyclones signed Wesley, Scout's No. 114 receiver, in 2014.