French, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end from Saddleback in San Clemente, Calif., was blown away by the new Iowa State football complex and weight room and was impressed by what offensive coordinator Mark Mangino showed him on film.
He has two offers — one from Iowa State and another from Illinois — but has thus far been told that the Cyclones don’t have a scholarship available. It is that bit of information that currently muddies his future plans.
“Right now they’ve offered me, but they don’t have a scholarship position open at this point,” French said. “Even if I do commit, right now they don’t have a scholarship available. I kind of still want to go check out Illinois to see what they’re about because I know they’ve been really cool to me and they’ve recruited me really hard.
“At this point I would probably make a decision if there was a scholarship open, but there’s not at this time. I kind of have to weigh my options now.”
French made 32 catches for 364 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games last season for Saddleback. He was occasionally flexed out and is often part of double-team blocking schemes with the tackle.
With the Cyclones losing E.J. Bibbs at the conclusion of the season, there is thought that a JUCO tight end could bridge the gap to younger players at the position. Iowa State has offered French and JUCO tight end Matt Morin, but appears to be waiting to see if there is attrition or need at the position.
French was asked to walk onto the football team in the summer and potentially earn a scholarship from there. He declined, however, and began his season at Saddleback. Now, he has had the opportunity to see what Iowa State offers.
“It was surreal seeing all of the weightlifting equipment, all the special machines that I’ve never seen before,” French said of his visit. “It was kind of a shock seeing all of the stuff that I could be using if I go there. It was a big turn on for me because I love working out, lifting, getting better. It pretty much sold me on all of that, and the practice facility, too.
“I know other schools don’t have that, because I’ve been around some other school’s facilities and I’ve seen other school’s weight rooms and equipment rooms and there’s nothing like it. They’re just way more advanced than most schools.”
The tight end was also happy with what Mangino showed him on film, feeling as if he could jump right in next season and contribute.
“I felt really good, because what he was showing me was stuff I’m already familiar with,” French said. “I felt like I was watching another practice of what I basically do. The type of stuff he was showing me I was way more than comfortable with because that’s the type of stuff I like doing.”
Whether French will be doing it at Iowa State remains up-in-the-air. He’s hoping a scholarship becomes available and would like to decide between Iowa State and Illinois by the end of the month if possible.
“I’m just hoping that something will come through with a scholarship,” French said. “I love the school, I love the campus, the students and everything, it seems like a really good fit for me.”