Two and a half weeks of immediate and swift work on the recruiting trail will culminate with five mid-year signees for Iowa State on Wednesday as it fills depth and experience holes that marked its roster upon arrival.
Iowa State identified areas of focus on the mid-year recruiting trail in the immediate aftermath of new coach Matt Campbell’s hiring, and those two areas centered primarily on the offensive line and secondary. The Cyclones graduate four offensive linemen from 2015 and lose multiple defensive backs.
While there may still be work to accomplish on the mid-year circuit — the program presumably needs to add a JUCO quarterback to build depth — the majority of the immediate-impact players desired will officially join the program when they put pen to paper Wednesday and arrive on campus in January.
Here’s a closer look at who Iowa State is adding.
Oge Udeogu | OL | City College of San Francisco
Who is he? Oge Udeogu (OH-GAY and OO-DA-GOO) is a 6-foot-4, 310-pound guard who held offers from the likes of Houston, Louisville, Georgia Tech, San Diego State and Iowa State among several others, including Toledo, before committing during his official visit on Dec. 6. The previous staff recruited Udeogu, but his relationship with new offensive coordinator and O-line coach Tom Manning helped seal the deal.
What to expect: Iowa State loses two starting guards from 2015 in Wendell Taiese and Oni Omoile, and while Daniel Burton will step up, Udeogu becomes the top JUCO to watch as an immediate-impact player. Udeogu could start for the Cyclones from Day 1 and is considered one of the top JUCOs in 2016, being ranked No. 79 in Scout.com’s Top 100.
Quotable: “They told me I can come in and be an impact player right now. It’s a place where I can come, get coached up by some of the best coaches in college football, improve my game and get to play Big 12 football. It’s just an opportunity of a lifetime honestly."
Karson Green | OL | NEO A&M College (Okla.)
Who is he? Karson Green committed to Iowa State over offers from New Mexico, Akron, East Carolina and others. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound lineman was identified by the new staff, which made a push for him by stopping in Oklahoma. He committed to Iowa State following his official visit on Dec. 13.
What to expect: While Green is labeled as a guard, he played center in high school and has experience at guard, tackle and center at the JUCO level. He could come in and provide valuable depth at the tackle position immediately, but could also compete at guard and center come spring. On film, Green is a nasty, tough-nosed and high-energy lineman.
Quotable: “[Coach Matt Campbell] said I can come in and compete at the tackle position, but in other places as well. It’s a huge opportunity on a college football scale. Playing in the Big 12 has been a dream of mine since I was a small kid.”
D'Andre Payne | CB | Arizona Western C.C.
Who is he? Out of high school, D’Andre Payne was a four-star Scout 300 cornerback who committed to Tennessee over offers from 20-plus Power 5 schools including numerous blueblood programs. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound corner appeared in eight games as a true freshman before transferring to Maryland and then Arizona Western where he redshirted. He will arrive at Iowa State with three remaining years of eligibility.
What to expect: Payne certainly isn’t lacking talent, and his experience at a Power 5 school is a bonus now that he arrives at Iowa State as a self-described more mature and knowledgeable player. Iowa State loses Sam E. Richardson at cornerback and wanted to add experience to its secondary. Payne could start immediately and being a mid-year transfer could help him shed some rust before fall.
Quotable: “I don’t think I’d want to be in another place. They expect me to come in and be a dude. Come in and make a big impact on the defense right away. I’m up for the challenge. I’ve been out of [football] for a little while and I’m excited to get back."
Thadd Daniels | CB | Cerritos College (Calif.)
Who is he? Thadd Daniels saw some of his interest diminish after he suffered a dislocated shoulder in his true sophomore season at Cerritos. He received a medical redshirt and bounced back as a redshirt sophomore before ultimately committing to Iowa State over his two other finalists, Purdue and Utah State. Because of his medical redshirt, the 6-foot-2 Daniels arrives at Iowa State with two remaining years of eligibility.
What to expect: Daniels is another player who could compete for a starting spot immediately at cornerback. Aside from soon-to-be sophomore Brian Peavy, Iowa State is likely to have an open competition come spring and Daniels is right in that mix with Payne. Both will contribute in 2016, and Daniels adds a big and physical cornerback to the Cyclones’ mix.
Quotable: “I met with all of the coaching staff that’s there right now and I had good vibes. I liked the atmosphere up there at Iowa State. It’s pretty cool how the fans love the football team and stuff."
Cliff Fernandez | TE | Southwest Mississippi C.C.
Who is he? Iowa State picked up a commitment from Cliff Fernandez under the direction of the previous staff but sealed him with the new one after there had already been some preexisting relationships when Toledo had shown interest. Illinois showed late interest, but Fernandez stuck with the Cyclones.
What to expect: Fernandez is a versatile tight end and Iowa State has shared a vision to use him that way. He’ll see time at tight end, but could be split out wide and be used as an H-back in the backfield. At 6-foot-5, 257 pounds, Fernandez has good size and could have an immediate impact on the offense as the Cyclones graduate Ben Boesen, leaving soon-to-be senior Justin Chandler as the most experienced tight end on the current roster.
Quotable: “[Coach Matt Campbell] likes my size and how athletic I was. Pretty much he said I have upside because I’ve only been doing this a year and a half at tight end. After I got here [on my visit], the fans, coaches and players were great. This is the place I need to be.”