Countdown to National Signing Day: Defense

With signing day just under a week away and Iowa State being pretty close to done filling the spots in its recruiting class of 2005, now is a great time to take a step back and analyze this year's group of newcomers. We'll start with the defense, where the secondary has become a focal point of this season's recruiting efforts.

When cornerbacks Josh Hargis and Bobby Chalk were dismissed from the team late last year, it became evident that the Cyclones would target defensive backs in the five weeks leading up to signing day. ISU already had one commitment in hand – from Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson cornerback James Smith – but hit the recruiting trail hard searching for more help.

Give a lot of credit to Cyclone secondary coach and lead Florida recruiter Chris Ash for his job done in the state. The assistant helped lock up commitments from a Sunshine State duo – Fort Myers Dunbar's Chris Singleton and Gibsonton East Bay's Durrell Williams. Then, Ash relied on the work done by fellow assistant Tony Alford in locking up Denver (Colo.) Montbello standout Steve Johnson.

Singleton, who has 4.36 speed, may be the prize in this year's group of defensive backs and is one of the top incoming freshmen on either side of the ball. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder originally committed to South Carolina before taking a visit to ISU the weekend of January 21st. He also had scholarship offers from Iowa, Wisconsin, Troy State, and East Carolina.

Williams (6-0, 170, 4.55) and Johnson (6-1, 190, 4.55) could also challenge for playing time as freshmen, but will at least give the team more depth in a depleted secondary.

Another established prep cornerback is also in the picture for ISU. Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Stranahan's Daniel Dufrene (5-11, 180, 4.3) originally committed to Minnesota before opening up his recruitment. He now appears headed for a final-week decision between the Gophers and Cyclones.

The Cyclones are also looking forward to adding a pair of linebackers. Garden City (Kan.) JUCO transfer Alvin Bowen has fended off repeated last-ditch efforts from Kansas State and is headed for a Wednesday signing with ISU. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder steps into a battle with incumbent Jamarr Buchanan for a starting job at WILL linebacker.

Bowen, a native of New Jersey, put up monster numbers as a sophomore at Garden City, amassing 79 tackles, 20 tackles-for-loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles, four pass deflections, and 27 quarterback hurries. Another bonus is that he will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Florida sleeper Josh Raven is the second linebacker set to sign. The Cape Coral Mariner defensive end compiled 31 sacks over the last two seasons for the Class 1A program, and is an outstanding athlete.

Because the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder played out of position at end, he didn't get much attention from nearby SEC and ACC programs. ISU is getting a steal with Raven, who will be moved to outside linebacker in Ames.

The Cyclones' picture up front could change a bit between now and signing day. San Francisco City College tackle/end Thomas Patton (6-4, 290, 4.9) is perhaps the only sure thing after choosing ISU in late December. The transfer signed with UCLA and spent two years in that program before heading to JUCO for one season. He will either provide depth in the middle, or compete for a starting job on the outside.

Lufkin (Texas) defensive lineman Rashad Hunt (6-3, 250, 4.7) is currently listed as a ‘soft' commit by, but it now appears to be a long-shot for him to join the Cyclones. Hunt visited Texas Tech a few weeks ago and could be leaning towards the Red Raiders.

However, is hearing that ISU may not be out of the running for McKinney (Texas) standout Lorenzo Jones (6-3, 295, 5.1) quite yet.

He has already made verbal commitments to Nebraska and – more recently – Oklahoma State, but rumors had Alford making an in-school visit this week. Word is, Jones was very receptive. Just as has been expected, Jones' decision might not be known until signing day.

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