Cotton-Fiacco Bond Leads to Verbal

Hartland (Wisc.) Arrowhead offensive lineman Jason Fiacco is proud to say he's got a lot in common with Iowa State's new coordinator and line coach Barney Cotton. The close bond the two developed during summer camp in June has helped the Cyclones land the 6-foot-2, 307-pound Fiacco, a 4-star recruit by The Insiders and Top 100 player in the Midwest.

ISU picked up its third commitment for the Class of 2005 Friday morning when Fiacco gave the coaching staff a verbal commitment. While his decision was a testament to the Cyclones and head coach Dan McCarney, it was a strong indication of his desire to play for Cotton.

"He was at Nebraska before and likes to run the ball," said Fiacco, who also entertained offers from West Virginia, Northern Illinois, Colorado, Colorado State, and Kansas. "He's more of a blue-collar guy, which is my kind of coach. At camp I liked how he was aggressive. We worked well together. He was probably the best coach I worked with this summer."

Fiacco's dad, Jim, an active player in his son's recruiting process, believes the fit between player and coach is a strong one.

"We feel that Coach Cotton and the style of offense he's going to be putting in is well suited to Jason's playing temperament and personality," said Jim Fiacco. "Jason's just a hard-nosed, tough kid. Old school was the way he was raised. He likes a real physical brand of football with a lot of running the ball. That's the kind of offense he'll be able to make a contribution to."

Although the Fiaccos have made several trips to the ISU campus over the past year in a half, the one they made to Ames in June could have been the clincher. That's when Jason Fiacco and Cotton developed a strong player-coach relationship.

"He went to camp last year and had his offer before we went down this year," Jim Fiacco said. "But what we wanted to do at this camp was to get a chance for Jason to work on the field with Barney Cotton.

"We wouldn't have chosen Iowa State or any school for that matter if there wouldn't have been a good fit between Jason and the position coach. That was really important. Jason felt comfortable working with Coach Cotton. I think their attitude, style, and approach to football are good fits."

Fiacco's verbal comes relatively early in the recruiting process. But the commitment was an easy one for him to make, given his comfort level with ISU and its coaching staff.

"I felt very good with my decision to go to Iowa State, so I went ahead and got it out of the way," he said. "They said if I get hurt, my scholarship is still there. I thought about it the whole summer and was pretty stressed about picking the colleges. I think I made the best decision.

"If I would have felt uncomfortable, I would have waited until the end of my season. I've liked Iowa State through most of the recruiting process, so I didn't think there was a reason to wait until after my season."

The standout offensive lineman from Wisconsin would also like to hit the playing field early in his career, in a similar fashion as current starters Aaron Brant and Seth Zehr have done recently.

"Early playing time was also a consideration," Jim Fiacco said. "We feel that Jason can go in and make a contribution to the Cyclones early. He's real competitive and is going to want to get out on the field, start competing, and helping the team as soon as he can."

The overall feel of the program and facilities were also a consideration, said Jason Fiacco.

"The campus is real nice and is not like other ones," he said. "Madison is really spread out, but Iowa State's is real nice. The facilities at Iowa State are real good, too, especially the indoor practice facility. That was the nicest one I've seen."

Fiacco might have grown up in the University of Wisconsin's backyard, but his roots to the Cyclones and state of Iowa are strong. His mother, Joyce, a native of Rinard, graduated from ISU in 1971.

"My Mom went to Iowa State and I have been a fan for years," Fiacco said in a Friday morning release sent to TheInsiders' Chris Pool. "I have always wanted to play in the Big 12 and play teams like Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas every year. It's a dream come true."

Fiacco is projected as an interior offensive lineman.

"All of the schools we talked to wanted him as a center or guard," Jim Fiacco said. "I think Coach Cotton was thinking of him as a center, but depending on what the need was, said he could play guard. But with Luke (Vander Sanden) graduating, the need might be center. He could even end up playing center and guard at different times."


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