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 final installment, we're looking at strong safety.
The Leader: T.J. Mutcherson
Ask just about anyone: Mutcherson is indisputably one of Iowa State's top physical specimens. He's a prototype strong safety, give or take an inch, packs a punch and he can run. The issue with Mutchereson, since he's got on campus, is harnessing his energy and focusing it toward football. In the past, Mutcherson's knuckleheadedness would cost him a game, but nobody noticed — he was just on special teams duty. Now if he gets in trouble, 55,000 will know. The hope's that a feature role will be just the kick Mutcherson needs. Athletically, he should be an upgrade over Deon Broomfield. He's my pick for ISU's leading tackler in 2014.
The Wildcard: Darian Cotton
Cotton's a nice special teams player who hasn't made a dent in the two-deep until now. It was a bit of surprise to hear Cotton was pushing Mutcherson at strong safety a few weeks ago — but again, as we just discussed, Paul Rhoads might've just been sending Mutcherson a message — but nevertheless, it looks like Maurice Linguist has performed another successful reclamation project, turning cornerback Matthew Thomas into a contributor and now doing the same with Cotton. Do you want him as your team's starter? No, and the guess here is if something long-term went awry with Mutcherson, the Cyclones would phase Qujuan Floyd to strong safety, but Cotton will be fine contributing a handful of reps a game.
The Future: Mutcherson
Iowa State didn't sign a true strong safety in its 2014 recruiting class and doesn't have one in the fold for 2015 either, so the three remaining years of Mutcherson's eligibility make him an easy enough answer here.
The Cyclones are hot for Arizona Western strong safety Paul Magloire, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound hitter, and a former running back in a former life at Appalachian State. Magloire jumped on his first offer this spring, from Arizona, and is solidly committed. He's interested in Iowa State, however, as the Cyclones offered just a few days later. ISU is hoping to get Magloire to Ames for an official visit later in the season.