CN Exclusive With Tony Alford

Cyclone Nation had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Iowa State assistant head coach and running backs coach Tony Alford. Alford, who is also one of Iowa State's top recruiters compares one of Iowa State's newest recruits to Ellis Hobbs, an Iowa State great. What recruit is that? What does Coach Alford think about the running back position next season? Find out here in another interview with the coaches themselves only at Cyclone Nation.

Blum: You were the lead recruiter for Kris Means. How difficult was it to nab him out of Colorado?


Alford: He committed so early, way back in August. He came to our camp and preformed exceptionally well. He's a real academic-minded kid. He wants to major in chemical engineering, which obviously we've got a phenomenal program. The advisors in that program did an unbelievable job in talking to him about that school and that part of the curriculum. He went out to Colorado, Colorado State, went to the camp out at UCLA, who was also recruiting him. I think he liked the people here, he enjoyed the coaching staff, the players that he met and his experience here, the academics and everything rolled into one. He's a real mature kid. It was good, he was a fun kid to recruit. A real fun kid.


Blum: How do the running backs you recruited fit into the system? Do they compare to Stevie Hicks?


Alford: No they are different. Alexander (Robinson) is fast. He reminds me, and I don't want to jinx him, a lot of Ellis Hobbs, as far as his athleticism and his desire. I've told him that he reminds me of Ellis with his demeanor and his work ethic, just how he carries himself in his everyday life. I'm really excited about him. I think he can really run.


Josh (Johnson) is more of an inside, powerful guy. Really good legs on him, powerful. It seems like he's got some good speed. We're excited about him. The guy who is also a really explosive guy is Mitchell Moore. He's a guy with a lot of explosiveness in him. He plays in the post on his high school basketball team and he's 6'1. He's got some powerful movement about him and explosiveness in his body. We're really excited about him as well. With Harry Scott, he's a bigger guy. Harry is 6'2 and 205 pounds. He's a big guy that can really run. He's a physical guy. They are all physical guys. None of them shy away from contact. We're excited about all of them. Every single one. We're excited about what they bring to the table in their own right.


Blum: What about ball security? You have preached that ever since you have been here. Can these guys be reliable?


Alford: How'd we do last year? (Laughs) Let's hope that was an anomaly. We'd like to think so (guys being reliable) We hope so. That's coaching and that's teaching. That's coming in and getting the job done and understanding the tradition that we have built and want to continue to have and get better at. That will be a mantra that will never stop.


Blum: Did you have a plan to go and recruit Oklahoma harder? It seems like you made an effort to do that this season.


Alford: Yea, Barney Cotton did a great job of recruiting down in that state. We did make an effort to go down there and we were also in Texas. That's Big 12 country. He did a phenomenal job and picking three, four, five guys out of there. He did a great job. Those kids have come up here and had good experiences. We've got a couple guys from Oklahoma on the team and they have had good experiences, and that certainly helped the cause.   They can look at guys that they know personally or that are from their area that have had some success, then they can say, "I can go do that too." Barney did a good job with that.


Blum: Who would you say are the playmakers in this class?


Alford: Oh man, there are quite a few. Obviously, Austen Arnaud. The things that he brings; the athleticism and everything about him. I think Kris Means is a playmaker. Guys that really showed up; Derrick Russell, he played basketball he's just a fine athlete. It just goes on and on and on. You look at Rashawn Parker. I mean that guy is relentless. Mac talked about him, and he's a guy on the defensive side that just makes plays. He runs and pursues. Fred Garrin is a sideline to sideline guy as well. Guys like Drenard Williams and Devin McDowell; they can just run and cover lots of ground. If you can run, chances are you can make plays for us.


Blum: Are special teams an area where some of these guys can contribute right away?


Alford: Absolutely. To say that freshmen are going to come in and start right away; who knows, but it's hard to do. But, a guy can come in and get some reps, be in the 2 deep, but also assist in special teams, which are a third of the game and a critical piece of the ballgame. Who we kidding? Guys that can come in here and run, can maybe come in and help on special teams. And ultimately help you win football games. I don't care; we don't care if they're freshman. If a guy can run and go make plays in any capacity, you put him on the field and turn him loose to make you some plays.


Blum: What do you see for the running back competition next year?


Alford: It's going to be heavy competition this spring, there's no question about that. We're going to have heavy competition. Stevie was injured a bunch, but that's part of the game. Some guys have got to step up. We've got to be better as a unit. I've got to be better as a coach. There's going to be great competition and hopefully guys will champion one another's effort and champion each other as much as they can. At the same time compete like hell to make sure they can get on the field and help out this football team any way we can. The ultimate goal is to win games. We need to pull our weight as far as running backs. We need to be big playmakers for this football team and be dependable guys for this football team in all facets of the game.


Blum: Is the goal to get back to the tradition of the Davis' and Ennis Haywood's of the world?


Alford: Oh absolutely. We've got to be able to run the football. That's not just the lineman, that's the running backs too. They've got to find holes, break tackles and run away from people. It's not rocket science. Those are things you've got to do to be successful in the backfield. I've got to coach it that way, and coach it tough and hard-nosed. We've got to run the ball and get back to the days of the Davis' and Haywood's where we are running the football, where we are a physical offensive team. We would love to get back there. We're going to talk about that a bunch.


Blum: With the amount of guys returning, how powerful of offense could this be?


Alford: I think it could be a good offense, a very good offense. We got a lot of guys back, a lot of experience. We just have to come together and jell and hopefully guys will stay healthy. And continue to compete and push one another to be better, to be the best that we can be. Ultimately, it comes down to how much can we help this football team win. Whatever it takes.



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