Among the 21 players Iowa State is signing in its 2015 class are seven high school commits who will arrive in Ames to play for defensive coordinator Wally Burnham.
The Cyclones will sign two linebackers (Bobby McMillen and Marcel Spears), a defensive end (Seth Nerness), two defensive tackles (Josh Coleman and De'Amontae Jackson), and two defensive backs (Stephon Brown and Jordan Wallace).
Of course (as can be found in the link below), Iowa State has also added four JUCO players to play on the defensive side of the ball including tackles Demond Tucker and Bobby Leath and defensive backs Jarnor Jones and Jomal Wiltz.
Let's take a look at the six defensive high school signees.
THE STORY: McMillen holds the honor of being Iowa State's first commit in the 2015 class after the linebacker signed last spring on March 8. McMillen is the son of a coach who is familiar with all linebacker positions, having played middle linebacker during his senior season. When he arrives in Ames, the plan is for McMillen, Illinois' top-ranked middle linebacker, to focus on playing weakside linebacker for the Cyclones.
WHAT HE SAID: "To be honest with you, there are a lot better athletes throughout this entire country than myself. I’m not the fastest guy, I’m not the strongest, I can’t jump the highest, but I believe what separates me from others on the field is just my intensity in the game, being able to play 110 percent the entire game all four quarters is probably what separates myself from other people. My ability to play sideline to sideline every play, a high-motor guy and being able to make any play I can. The want to be in every play and everything like that."
THE STORY: After drawing interest down the stretch from a number of other schools including Arizona, Kansas State, West Virginia, Louisville and North Carolina, Nerness held solid in his commitment to Iowa State. Nerness transferred from from Murray (IA) Community High to Southlake Christian Academy in Huntersville, North Carolina for his senior season. He is a quick, powerful defensive end who is also a talented pass-rusher off the edge.
WHAT HE SAID: "The thing I really need to do a lot of is I need to use my hands more. I use a lot of natural talent and athletic ability to get past guys — a lot of times I’ll simply out-run them and move too fast for them. I’m not going to be able to do that, so I’ve got to learn to use technique more.”
THE STORY: In getting a commitment from Spears back in July, Iowa State got a big coup, beating out the likes of Missouri, Kansas, and Kansas State for the services of the smart outside linebacker who has an ability to play in space. Spears has added some size since the start of his junior campaign, and given the right situation could contribute immediately, although nothing have been determined.
WHAT HE SAID: "Iowa State always made a big impression on me from what they had to offer. I felt like it was a good fit for me. I felt like it was a good fit for my family. I'm a very family-oriented person. I prayed about it and really thought Iowa State was where I belonged."
THE STORY: Brown committed to Iowa State just following his official visit to Ames when the Cyclones faced Baylor in late September, choosing Iowa State over offers from Marshall, South Florida, N.C. State and Southern Miss among others. Former Iowa State cornerback Jansen Watson, who attended the same high school as Brown, helped the cause by providing insight. Brown is a speedy corner (4.38 40-yard-dash) who is versatile and who can press and play man or drop into a zone.
WHAT HE SAID: “I saw all of the fans tailgating and campus and I immediately knew I was going to commit. I just fell in love with it the second I saw it. They told me they like the type of person I am, because they called my teachers and they asked about me and they got a lot of good things. They like my physical ability and how physical I am and I’m a good person on and off the field.”
THE STORY: After drawing interest from the likes of Texas, Oklahoma and LSU during the summer, Wallace committed to Iowa State in late June, shutting down his recruitment. Wallace is regarded as a safety, and is ranked as the No. 23 safety in the state of Texas.
WHAT HE SAID: "Iowa State felt like home to me. I know that I've made it to the level of football that I've always dreamed of playing. I'm grateful to Iowa State for giving me the opportunity and I look forward to contributing for them. They said they really liked what I did during the camp [during the summer]. The town was awesome to see, too. It's a great family environment there."
THE STORY: With offers from the likes of Fresno State, Idaho, Tennessee State, Charleston Southern, Citadel and North Dakota, Coleman's recruitment picked up down the stretch as Iowa State came in with an offer followed by Missouri. Coleman committed to Iowa State one week before Signing Day and picked up an offer later that night from Missouri, which he visited the weekend before signing. Ultimately, Coleman chose to stay with his commitment to the Cyclones. Iowa State has recruited Coleman, who some have described as "violent" with his hands, as a defensive tackle, but could move him to the edge depending how he progresses with his body after arriving.
WHAT HE SAID: "I was thinking about it, I talked to my family about it for like a week or so after the visit, I told them how much I loved the school, how friendly the people were and everything just seemed to fit in the right place. They said they see me as a d-tackle. If I can’t make the d-tackle weight in the projected time, then I would be a d-end. They said I have every chance as everybody else to start and get a good amount of playing time."
THE STORY: Iowa State began showing interest in Jackson after his junior season, and the talented defensive tackle committed to the Cyclones following his Jan. 16-18 visit. The 6-foot, 235-pound defensive lineman had played linebacker in the past, drawing offers there from a number of major programs.
WHAT HE SAID: “They started showing interest about a year ago, sending me lots of letters and stuff like that. Then I received notifications from my head coach that Coach Wally wanted to recruit me and get me out there on visits. I just went on from there.”