Only 24 hours after Iowa State wrapped up its mid-year class of five prospects, it continued to bolster its offensive line with experience Thursday when Rhode Island graduate transfer Tyler Catalina gave his pledge to the Cyclones.
The 6-foot-6, 298-pound tackle, who will graduate from Rhode Island in May and arrive on campus in the summer, visited Iowa State during the weekend and ultimately picked the Cyclones over Boston College.
“I can’t say enough about the facilities and the new coaching staff that they brought in,” Catalina said. “All the guys know how to make you feel at home. When I got up there I connected with all of them right away and I can tell just by the demeanor — they’re not bull-shitters, they say how it is and they know how to respect the players. As Coach [Matt] Campbell said, it is about the players and I believe him. I showed up and it clicked and I felt comfortable.”
Catalina, who will be a fifth-year senior with one year of eligibility, has started 33 games at tackle in three seasons at Rhode Island following his redshirt year. Former Iowa State assistant Bill Bleil coached him at Rhode Island.
“[He] said I would be treated like a king and they have some of the best fans in the country,” Catalina said.
Catalina found those two things to be true on his trip.
When Catalina made the decision to be a graduate transfer, a family friend helped with the process and happened to know Iowa State associate head coach Louis Ayeni. He sent film and Iowa State quickly offered.
The Cyclones, who graduate four offensive linemen from the 2015 season, have now added reinforcements by way of JUCO offensive linemen Oge Udeogu and Karson Green and now in Catalina. In Catalina, Iowa State adds an experienced All-Conference player who was a captain last season.
“I’m planning on coming in and I’m not looking to gain the respect of everybody just because I’m a fifth-year guy,” Catalina said. “I’m going to come in, I’m going to compete in camp right away and I’m going to prove to these guys that I’m going to earn respect the good ol’ hard way.”
Catalina will arrive at Iowa State following the spring semester and is expected to compete immediately at one of the tackle spots.
“Me talking with Coach [Tom] Manning, everything is technique,” Catalina said. “That’s the only way you can get better as an offensive lineman. He says as an offensive lineman talent doesn’t matter, which is true. It’s your attitude and effort to getting better, to making yourself better and helping the team every day that is ultimately going to get you to the goal that you want.”