There will be many questions facing Iowa State when spring ball rolls around next month, but one of the pressing questions is who the Cyclones will look to as they attempt to fill the void left by All-Big 12 tight end E.J. Bibbs.
Bibbs caught 45 passes (second on the team) for 382 yards and a team-best eight touchdown catches (five more than the next player) last season as Iowa State's go-to receiver in the red zone. Now, the Cyclones will need to fill the hole.
Iowa State didn't add any tight ends in the 2015 class. Despite some thought 6-foot-6 receiver Hakeem Butler could eventually play tight end, coach Paul Rhoads told AllCyclones.com last week on Signing Day that move isn't likely.
"Butler's not that kind of size," Rhoads said. "Height and width right now, but he’s 208 pounds. He’s not a tight end, put your hand down type of player."
The Cyclones have already made the attempt of moving a receiver to tight end when they tried 6-foot-4, 239-pound receiver Quan West at tight end. The redshirt junior remains listed there on the current roster, but Rhoads made it sound as if that trial run has come and gone."Quan West is a big player in our program that we thought was headed in that direction," Rhoads said. "Getting down in that three-point stance and rolling the hips out and doing the things he has to do at the traditional spot is not a strength of his."
So, what now?
"We’ve got some guys on campus, we’ve got some people in our program, some walk-ons that we’re anxious to see them compete and see what that position becomes," Rhoads said.
The leader may have been Alex Leslie, but Iowa State announced last month that Leslie would transfer. The current list includes walk-on and redshirt senior Ben Boesen, who has been a key special teams player in recent seasons. Then there are redshirt freshmen Jake Ortale and Scotty Schaffner. Word is that coaches have been impressed with Ortale.
Rhoads said late last season that receiver D'Vario Montgomery could fill the void Bibbs leaves in regard to flexing him out wide. That could also be the case for West given his build and the attempt to move him to tight end.
Until March 3, when spring ball rolls around, tight end remains mostly a mystery.