Quenton Bundrage was supposed to continue his transformation into one of the Big 12’s top playmakers this season, taking a leap from the glimpse he provided last season.
The redshirt junior was hoping for consistency and was expected to lead the way on a rebuilt offense. With four plays and a freak injury, Bundrage’s season has instead come to an end after it was revealed Monday the receiver has a torn ACL.
“He’s a big playmaker,” coach Paul Rhoads said. “Quenton Bundrage was a very big part of our offense and he took [the news] hard as you’d expect him to. [He was] really looking forward to not only a big play season, but a consistent season from himself. To have that taken away on the fourth play of the football game is really disheartening for the young man. He was in a lot of pain on Saturday night physically and he’s in a lot of pain mentally right now.”
Bundrage led the way as Iowa State’s big play receiver last season with a team-leading 48 catches for 676 yards and nine touchdown receptions, which tied the ISU single-season record.
“He’s one of the front-runners of that group and he’s obviously a leader for those guys,” quarterback Sam Richardson said. “It’s tough being how well he performed last year and he wanted to build on that. It’s tough for him and it’s tough for the team. Hopefully he can be a vocal guy for us now and help out on the practice field.”
Bundrage didn’t have an opportunity to insert himself into the offense when he suddenly went down on the first drive. Lazard replaced him at the ‘X’ receiver slot, drawing a pass interference call when targeted the first time while bringing in a 48-yard reception on a catch-and-run on the second.
The 6-foot-5 Lazard now moves to the starter at that position with D’Vario Montgomery behind him at the No. 2. Montgomery and receiver Tad Ecby were both suspended for the season-opener for a violation of team policies.
“We’ve got depth at that position, quite a bit of depth,” Richardson said. “Now we’re getting some receivers in there that didn’t play in the first game. It’s not so much replacing him, it’s just trying to find those guys that’ll step up and make plays.”
Daley and running back DeVondrick Nealy each had a team-high five receptions in the opener as the Cyclones gained 151 yards through the air. Now, others will need to step up in Bundrage’s absence, too.
“I feel like I’m one of the guys who will step up,” Daley said. “Even though he’s hurt, I’m still going to get coached up from him and I’m still going to ask him, ‘How can I run this route better, and how can I get open?’
“I watch him a lot every day in practice to learn from him.”
Bundrage would likely be granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA since he played in only four plays and because the injury is season-ending. Iowa State will need to apply for a waiver and the process could take time to play out.