Iowa State has added a flurry of new weapons on the offensive side of the ball for offensive coordinator Mark Mangino to get his hands on. Among the 22 players in Iowa State's 2015 class, nine high school commits are on offense.
Among the new offensive weapons joining the Cyclones in this class are quarterback Dominic DeLira, running backs Joshua Thomas and Sheldon Croney, receivers Denver Johnson, Carson Epps, Hakeem Butler and Landen Akers and offensive linemen Julian Good-Jones and Bryce Meeker.
As can be found in the other wrap-ups, the Cyclones will add two JUCO players to the offense in this class in the form of offensive tackle Jaypee Philbert and interior offensive lineman Patrick Scoggins.
Let's take a look at the nine high school additions to the offense.
THE STORY: Iowa State is DeLira's primary offer, but one big reason is because the quarterback shut his recruitment down early, committing to the Cyclones in June. DeLira fits the Cyclones' system perfectly as he is quick, elusive quarterback who played in a similar system at Lake Travis to the one Iowa State currently runs. He throws well on the run, but also has a pocket presence.
WHAT HE SAID: "I really liked the whole school. It’s a really nice college town, I thought it was beautiful when I was up there. Everything was just great, everything was top-notch. It was good for my future and what I’m trying to accomplish, so I thought it was the best fit."
THE STORY: At 6-foot, Thomas is a powerful runner out of the backfield who reported a personal best of 4.50 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Thomas didn't visit Iowa State until Jan. 16-18 shortly after being offered, and eventually committed to the Cyclones after visiting Wisconsin later in the month. He held offers from the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Wisconsin among others before choosing the Cyclones, although some schools were recruiting him as a linebacker. Thomas says there has been no determination made in regards to whether he will redshirt.
WHAT HE SAID: "I’m just a power back that can actually pull away from defenders. That’s a thing that they really liked about me. They just see me as a primary back. They really took care of me, really showed my family a good time on the official visit. Of course their academics are outstanding. That’s another thing I look forward to.”
THE STORY: Croney is the last-minute surprise for the Cyclones in the 2015 class as he became a silent commit shortly before signing day and announced his decision when he signed his letter of intent. Croney also held offers from Oregon State, Nevada, Fresno State, Boise State, UNLV and Colorado State among others before visiting Iowa State on the final weekend.
WHAT HE SAID:"It may not look like I’m one of those fast guys — once I get in the open field I pull away — but I can always put my shoulder down and maybe run a guy or two over. I think I’m pretty balanced when it comes to that. I’m a bigger guy that can pound the ball throughout the game. That’s basically what they told me, ‘Just come in and run hard,” and there’s a good chance I could be playing as a freshman."
THE STORY: Johnson committed to Iowa State after leaving a movie theater in early August and was the first receiver commit for the Cyclones. He ultimately sided with Iowa State over offers from Washington State, SMU, Tulsa and Utah State as well as a few others. Johnson uses his 6-foot-2 frame to make catches over smaller defensive backs and credits strong route running as one of his strengths.
WHAT HE SAID: "The people they have there that are hungry and ready to turn the program around. I see the hunger in the eyes of everybody and everybody wants the same thing. I’m ready to get it rolling, because these are my brothers that I’ll be able to be going to war with."
THE STORY: Epps, who is the cousin of Denver Johnson, picked up an offer in early January and committed just more than a week later following his official visit. He chose Iowa State over mostly smaller offers, but picked up a late offer from Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-2 receiver is versatile with the ability to play both outside and in the slot. He also possesses quickness and the ability to get behind defenders.
WHAT HE SAID: "I kind of picked this up from Jenks, is the college-style offense that we run and our plays and our checks and stuff like that. I think that prepares me for the next level. I think I might have a step up on the next high school receiver that’s coming as far as learning plays because I kind of already know the terminology and coverages."
THE STORY: Butler arrived in Ames just more than one week before Signing Day for an unusual Monday/Tuesday visit, and ended up committing one week later. The 6-foot-7 receiver chose Iowa State instead of Houston, and could be a late, under-the-radar find with raw talent that could develop to combine with his size. Some believe Butler could eventually be suited for tight end with the addition of size, although no determination has been made in that regard.
THE STORY: Akers made several visits to Iowa State this past season before Paul Rhoads presented the athlete from Cedar Rapids an offer at the Texas Tech game. Akers will grayshirt next season before joining the team in January 2016, but brings speed and an ability to be explosive in the return game to the program.
WHAT HE SAID:"I went to one of the summer camps there and ran a pretty good 40 (4.39) and other stuff. They said they weren’t in a position to offer me right then, but then they decided to watch how I did my senior year and decided at the end that I was going to be one of the scholarship players. It was pretty amazing. I felt relieved once I got [the offer] and I was pretty sure that was the school I was going to go to."
THE STORY: Good-Jones drew interest down the stretch from Louisville and Indiana, but ultimately decided to remain solid with Iowa State, which he committed to in July. Good-Jones is ranked as the top tackle in Iowa and is expected to play on the outside for the Cyclones. The 6-foot-5 lineman possess a high motor and a quick first step.
WHAT HE SAID: "They were the first school that paid attention to me and the first school I visited, so I always used that as a comparison. I would always reflect back and I would always just find that Iowa State was always better than all those other schools in all these different aspects when I was visiting these other schools. When it came time to make my decision, it was just Iowa State was better."
THE STORY: Despite being ranked as the No. 2 tackle in the state of Iowa, Meeker is in for a position change upon his arrival to Iowa State. Meeker was the Cyclones' second commit in the class when he gave a verbal pledge in early June, and was told then that he was being recruited to play on Iowa State's interior. He'll redshirt his freshman season and could play center eventually, although he's been told if that doesn't work he'll play guard. Meeker also held an offer from Kansas State and drew interest from Iowa and Nebraska.
WHAT HE SAID: "I would say I’m a powerful lineman. I like pass-block, but I love run-block. I love hitting people, getting my hands on, driving through, not having to worry about moving my feet side to side, but north and south. That’s my favorite part of my game."