Iowa State's 2016 Class In Review: Looking at the Defense

Iowa State has put together a 2016 class that includes 29 prospects, 14 of which are on the defensive side of the ball. Let's take a look at who the Cyclones are adding to the program on defense.

Postion: DE/OLB | City: Calmar, Iowa

Note: Lensing is a versatile athlete who could play on either side of the ball.

In addition to being Iowa State's first commit of the 2016 class, Carson Lensing is the lone Iowan. Lensing is a versatile athlete who also plays basketball and who committed to the previous staff. For some time after his commitment, it wasn't totally known where Lensing would play — tight end or likely linebacker. After Matt Campbell watched Lensing's basketball game, Iowa State has decided to start the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Lensing's career on the defensive side of the ball. Lensing will be a hybrid linebacker/defensive end which will be known as the 'Leo' position in the years to come.


Postion: DT | City: Prior Lake, Minnesota

Note: Johnson is an explosive and quick athlete despite his size. 

Jamahl Johnson was identified by assistant Lou Ayeni and camped with Iowa State last summer before committing under the previous staff. At 6-foot, 300-pounds, Johnson is shorter for the defensive tackle position but has some similarities to current Iowa State defensive tackle Demond Tucker. Johnson, despite being 300-plus pounds, runs a sub-5.00 40-yard dash and is explosive off the ball. An under-the-radar recruit, Johnson is regarded as the top defensive tackle in Minnesota in 2016 and the No. 73 tackle overall. He added a late offer from Rutgers but stuck with the Cyclones. 


Postion: CB | City: Bakersfield, California

Note: White is from the same high school as Kamari Cotton-Moya and Sheldon Croney.

Iowa State recruited the cornerback position heavily with the 2016 class, and those additions began even before Matt Campbell arrived when the Cyclones added Lawrence White out of California. White, who hails from the same high school as Iowa State safety Kamari Cotton-Moya and running back Sheldon Croney, committed to Iowa State in September, giving the program a long, 6-foot-2 cornerback who also held offers from Washington State, Colorado State, and Nevada and interest from Utah and others.


Postion: CB | School: Mansfield, Texas

Note: Azunna is a physical corner who many think is a gem for Iowa State.

The addition of cornerbacks continued with Arnold Azunna out of Texas. Ranked as the No. 72 overall cornerback in 2016, Azunna has been regarded by analysts as a steal for the Cyclones and one of the best corners in Texas (No. 14 in the talented state). At 6-foot, 185-pounds, Azunna is a physical corner who has good ball skills and hits hard. Azunna committed to Iowa State over offers from the likes of Illinois, Colorado State, Fresno State, Air Force, Nevada and others. 


Postion: S | City: Akron, Ohio

Note: Grant is a versatile defensive back and one of Matt Campbell's first commits.

One of Matt Campbell's first commits — and his first high school commit — Jatairis Grant is a versatile defensive back out of Ohio. The 6-foot Grant was a cornerback during the first two years of high school in Akron before moving to safety for his final two seasons. That's where Grant will play for Iowa State despite having the flexibility to move elsewhere should the Cyclones need him to down the road. Grant is ranked as the No. 116 overall cornerback in 2016 and the No. 8 cornerback in Ohio. He was being recruited by Toledo and also held an offer from Cincinnati as well as several others. 


Postion: CB | School: Arizona Western C.C.

Note: Payne is a former four-star Scout 300 prospect out of high school.

With the hope to add immediate depth to its secondary, Iowa State found a former blue chip in cornerback D'Andre Payne. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound cornerback was a four-star Scout 300 prospect out of high school in the 2014 class and committed to Tennessee where he played in eight games as a freshman. Payne ultimately transferred to Arizona Western where he sat out in 2015 to save eligibility. He has arrived at Iowa State as a mid-year signee with three years to play three and could start immediately in 2016. Being a mid-year transfer could help Payne shed some rust before fall.


Postion: S | City: Cerritos College (Calif.)

Note: Daniels dealt with injuries as a sohpomore but is a versatile defensive back.

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 (BYU and Utah also offered). Daniels, who has two remaining years of eligibility, has already arrived at Iowa State as a mid-year signee and is a versatile defensive back who, at 6-foot-2, can play safety or corner. There's a good chance that Daniels will step in immediately and help Iowa State at safety in 2016.


Postion: DE | City: Lathrup Village, Michigan

Note: The Top-50 defensive end Uwazurike might be the gem of the class.

It's very possible that Eyioma Uwazurike is Iowa State's biggest steal in 2016. Uwazurike isn't totally overlooked when it comes to the rankings as the 6-foot-5, 245-pound prospect is ranked as the No. 48 overall defensive end in 2016. Still, many think he's been overlooked. Given his size out of high school and his athleticism, Uwazurike could develop into a muti-year starter off the edge and give the Cyclones a new presence. He is ranked as the No. 2 overall defensive end out of Michigan and the No. 8 overall defensive end out of the Midwest and Iowa State loves him.


Postion: CB | City: Garden City C.C. (Kan.)

Note: Johnson is a Top-100 JUCO who was highly recruited in high school.

Iowa State was able to land JUCO cornerback Lonnie Johnson thanks to its longtime relationships with the defensive back from the staff's time at Toledo. Johnson, who was at one point committed to Ohio State out of high school before flipping to Western Michigan and not qualifying, is ranked as the No. 91 overall JUCO in 2016 and is regarded by analysts as a highly-talented cornerback. West Virginia showed late interest in the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Johnson but never offered. 


Postion: LB | City: McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Note: Sutton is a Top-100 linebacker and one of the best in Pennsylvania.

In Tymar Sutton, Iowa State adds the nation's No. 87 overall outside linebacker in 2016 and a physical 6-foot, 210-pound bruiser to its linebacker group. Sutton, who is also ranked as the No. 3 outside linebacker in Pennsylvania, had a number of Power 5 offers before committing to Iowa State on Christmas including ones from the likes of Boston College, Illinois, Maryland, Syracuse, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Sutton is somewhat undersized, but has been an option quarterback in high school, so he has athleticism and plays well in space as well as in coverage. 


Postion: CB | City: Hallandale, Florida

Note: Iowa State flipped Webster from Cincinnati not long after his visit.

Not long after cornerback Romelo Webster visited Iowa State as a Cincinnati commit, he flipped to Iowa State as yet another cornerback add in the 2016 class. The 5-foot-11 Webster, who also held offers from the likes of Pittsburgh, Oregon State, South Florida and Toledo among others, is ranked as the No. 153 overall cornerback in 2016 including the No. 28 cornerback out of the talented state of Florida. Webster has good closing speed and has played both safety and cornerback in high school. Iowa State thinks he could play either position depending on how his body fills out in the years ahead. 


Postion: DT | City: Jacksonville, Florida

Note: Bailey's twin brother, JaQuan, committed to Iowa State with him.

A National Signing Day addition, Joshua Bailey is a 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive tackle whose twin brother, JaQuan, who surprised Iowa State with a Signing Day commitment too. Bailey is primarily a defensive tackle due to his size, but has the flexibility to move to the edge in certain situations and thus has some position flexibility that Iowa State likes. Bailey held offers from the likes of Indiana, South Florida, UCF and others before committing to the Cyclones on Signing Day. 


Postion: DE | City: Jacksonville, Florida

Note: JaQuan picked Iowa State over Tenneessee and Virginia Tech

JaQuan Bailey made a surprise pick when he committed to Iowa State early Wednesday morning. Bailey's commitment was a true surprise as he hadn't revealed his decision to the Iowa State staff. Bailey loved his trip but some felt he was trending to Virginia Tech in recent days. He also turned down Tenneessee. Bailey is a 6-foot-3, 235-pound defensive end who is ranked as the No. 123 overall defensive end in the 2016 class.


Postion: DE | City: Columbia, Missouri

Note: Nelson was a Semper Fi All-American this past season.

Iowa State made one final addition to the defensive side Wednesday with the addition of defensive end Jerrion Nelson. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound lineman could end up playing anywhere along the Cyclones' defensive line and was a Semper Fi All-American following his senior season. Nelson's two other finalists were Syracuse and Tulsa. 


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