The Cyclones kick off their year Aug. 30. To get you ready for the season, AllCyclones.com will be gauging the depth at every position on the roster. In this installment, we're looking at cornerback
Projected Starters: Nigel Tribune, So., Jacksonville (FL); Sam E. Richardson, Jr., League City (TX)
Projected Backups: Ken Lynn, Jr., Dallas (TX); Matthew Thomas, Sr., Lancaster (TX)
Other Players: Brian Peavy, Fr., Houston (TX): DeMonte Ruth, Fr., Dallas (TX)
The Leader: Nigel Tribune
It's expected that Tribune will take the jump from average starter to potential all-league player in his sophomore season, as he's built on his confidence and skill set. The only true freshman to play in 2013, Tribune started seven games last season, recording 30 tackles and one interception. He had some games he'd like to forget — like a roasting at the hands of Texas' Mike Davis — but was overall promising, given his youth. He's got all the tools in the world to be a multi-year lockdown cornerback and real difference-maker. Paul Rhoads has mentioned him in the same breath as Darrelle Revis, if that tells you anything.
The Wildcard: Matthew Thomas
If you were to group Iowa State's experienced cornerbacks into levels of talent, Tribune would be at the top by himself, Richardson and Lynn would follow in their own pod and Thomas would bring up the rear. But: the Cyclones have to play four cornerbacks this fall, injury or not, and Thomas needs to be ready to contribute. Rhoads said the other week he wondered for some time if Thomas would ever see the field on defense at Iowa State, but the veteran's had a good fall camp under the tutelage of Maurice Linguist. The additions of spread concepts to offenses at TCU and Kansas make Iowa State's development of multiple cornerbacks that much more important — in games featuring five-wide sets, Thomas might have to play.
The Future: Brian Peavy
The future is truly Tribune, who's got three years of eligibility, but Iowa State really likes its 2014 crop of cornerbacks in Peavy, Ruth and Mike Johnson, who's not on campus, but qualified, so you'd think he's taking a gray shirt. I like Peavy the most of the three. He flirts the line between confident and cocky, a fine attribute for a young cornerback, and he's got plenty athleticism, having starred in three sports for Westfield. I thought Peavy could play as a true freshman. For now, he'll redshirt, unless injury strikes ISU at corner. He needs to add weight in the interim but is an exciting prospect with a high ceiling.
Iowa State signed those three corners in 2014, though if Johnson gray shirts he'll count toward the 2015 class. The Cyclones are targeting a few high school cornerbacks, like Antonio Shenault and Darreyl Patterson, and are hot on the trail of JUCO cornerback Antoine Albert, a highly-coveted 6-foot-2 prospect. Patterson and Albert will both visit this weekend. The thinking goes Iowa State will look to take a high school and a JUCO cornerback in this class.