As the Iowa State offense drove the field Saturday in the waning seconds at Kinnick Stadium, the Cyclones’ current group of commits frantically texted back-and-forth.
Cole Netten set himself up for the 42-yard game-winning field goal attempt and the group of 10 recruits — a few at the stadium and most watching on TV — gasped as the ball went wide of the left upright.
“Oh my god,” came through in the group message.
“He’s not going to feel too good after this one if he makes it,” followed in the chat after it became clear that Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz called a timeout.
Netten’s mulligan sailed down the middle, sending Iowa State to a 20-17 comeback victory, its third in the last four seasons against rival Iowa. The tone of the group message quickly changed.
“Everybody went from pretty excited to all-caps locks,” 2015 wide receiver Denver Johnson said.
For 2015 offensive lineman commit Julian Good-Jones, the moment was brought more to life by his seat located on the south end. Good-Jones was at the game with Cedar Rapids Washington teammates Landen Akers and Royal Silver, who have both made unofficial visits to Jack Trice Stadium this season.
“I thought they were going to win the whole day,” Good-Jones said. “They’re taking a really good step as a program and I knew this was coming. They’re going in the right place. They barely lost to the No. 20 team in the country last week and I was there, too. It’s just really awesome to see. You know, I used to be a Hawkeyes fans, so now that I’m committed to Iowa State I’m an Iowa State fan and it’s a great thing to see.”
Iowa State currently has 10 commits in its 2015 class, and while it figures to be a smaller class this year, the Cyclones will likely add at least six more players to the mix when all is said and done.
There was a general consensus that a win like Saturday’s, which was broadcast nationally, could play a role with recruits currently on the fringe.
“I think it can be a huge thing,” Good-Jones said. “A lot of people that I talked to expected Iowa to dominate. I think everything is great about Iowa State. The only thing that might drive them away is they didn’t have a great season last year. After winning that key rivalry, that might be a good thing for a lot of recruits.”
“Absolutely,” Johnson added. “When you see a program win an important game it shows good signs, because everybody wants to find a winning program. It just shows that it’s up-and-coming or on the right track. It’s always a plus for a recruit.”
Meanwhile, for running back commit Devine Ozigbo, the game had a special meaning after he picked Iowa State over Iowa and a number of other offers.
“Me and my dad were sitting here watching it,” Ozigbo said. “It was a really big deal to me because I was heavily recruited by the University of Iowa and I knew if Iowa State didn’t come through I’d hear a lot of stuff on Twitter and stuff like that.”