On Campus: Bringing the Magic to the Jack

By now you are probably sick of hearing about the Iowa game. I'm right with you. I'd rather listen to Lou Holtz and Mike Gottfried's conversation on the intricacies of market economics in the former Yugoslavia than rehash the Iowa game. So with that said, let's turn the collective page.

While I was watching Jacksonville's Matt Jones destroy the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary on Monday night, I got to thinking about the prospect of moving basketball players to the football field. (Jones played both football and basketball at Arkansas.)

 

It makes sense. It is my belief that basketball players as a whole are the most athletically gifted players in college sports. My thought process could have ended there, but you all know me to well. I took it another step.

 

I began thinking of what former Cyclone basketball players would make the best football players. And by the time all was said and done, I had compiled an entire depth chart full of Cyclone basketball players, complete with coaching staff and videographers. And I wonder why some people think I'm a little off.

 

But, without further ado, here is what I came up with.

 

Quarterback

 

Fred Hoiberg- 6'4 210

 

The Mayor has great size and athletic ability to take the snaps from under center. Once you throw in his high intelligence and leadership abilities, he becomes a natural fit. Hoiberg is in the mold of a Sage Rosenfels with a touch more athleticism. His arm is above average, but Hoiberg strikes the fear in defense with his ability to make something happen when a play breaks down. He is a classic opportunist. (Hoiberg actually played QB at Ames HS and was recruited by Tom Osborne and Nebraska after winning both the basketball and football players of the year in the state of Iowa in 1991.)  

 

Running Back

 

Justus Thigpen- 6'2 200

 

Thigpen has ideal size and speed to star at the running back position. He has the build of Stevie Hicks and the jets of Blaise Bryant. That is truly a lethal combination. The Flint, Michigan product knows toughness and never backs down from a challenge. Once Thigpen gets into the open field, nobody can catch him. After each TD run, Voice of the Cyclones, John Walters exclaims, "JUSTUS IS SERVED!!!!" 

 

Slot (X) Receiver

 

Tim Barnes- 5'11 175

 

Barnes is the unknown commodity on the offense. He is used in the same vein as a J.J. Moses. Barnes is dangerous in short yardage situations and can cut on a dime. He is always a threat to take a reverse to the house. The coaches say he is the fastest man on the team. However, Barnes tends to disappear at times and doesn't bring total mental focus. Academics are also a concern.

 

Spilt-End (Z) Receiver

 

Rahshon Clark -6-5 200

 

Clark is the quiet superstar of the offense. Unlike most ego-centric receivers, Clark doesn't say much, he just goes out and makes plays. His leaping ability is unmatched in the game. Cornerbacks fear one-on-one "jump-ball" situations. Clark is most famous for his tomahawks over the goal-post after he catches a touchdown.

 

Flanker (Y) Receiver

 

Wesley Johnson- 6-7 205

 

The freshman flanker has created a stir in practice. His raw potential has wide-receiver coach Wayne Morgan salivating. Morgan said of Johnson, "He is as smooth as a gazelle and leaps like a cat being chased by a Rottweiler. He has the focus of an anaconda in the west Saharan desert." Nobody understood Morgan, but we can assume those were great traits to have.

 

Tight End

 

Marcus Fizer- 6-8 265

 

There isn't a more physical tight-end in college football. His huge frame swallows up defensive ends and his large backside shields off pass defenders. He is the definition of domination. Fizer owns the middle of the field and it takes three or four defenders to drag him down. He plays with an un-matched mean streak.

 

Offensive Line

 

LT- Victor Alexander 6-9 280

LG- Jared Homan 6-9 275

C- Kenny Pratt 6-4 280

RG- Clint Varley 6-4 285

RT- Loren Meyer 6-10 290

 

MAMMOTH. There is no other way to describe the big uglies up-front. Varley and Pratt were both asked to put on 40 healthy pounds to get up to their ideal playing weight. Both obliged without blinking and headed for the nearest Hardee's. The tackles are unbelievably skilled technicians. Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line coach Larry Eustachy said of his group, "You know we're just not tough enough. We have to be tougher. I like these guys, but our toughness isn't tough enough. I really like this Homan kid. He attacks you like somebody stole his cow or something."

 

DEFENSE

 

RUSH End

 

Marcus Fizer 6'8 265

 

Fizer is so talented, he plays both ways. He makes Julius Peppers look like Cephus Johnson with his level of play. He is a tireless worker and doesn't take a play off.

 

Defensive Tackle

 

Klay Edwards 6'8 275

 

Edwards is the unsung member of the defense. He goes out and gets his work done, never opening his mouth. Very Nick Leaders-like with his leadership abilities. Edwards is never flashy, but always consistent.

 

Nose Guard

 

Aaron Agnew 6-9 350

 

Agnew is so immensely beefy, he stops the running game without having to move. Often times he just falls forward, taking the two guards and center with him. He models himself after ex-Packer Gilbert Brown and actually refers to himself as the "Community Grave Digger."

 

Defensive End

 

Damion Staple 6-7 275

 

Staple did for Jamaican college football players what "Cool Runnings" did for the Jamaican bobsledders. He broke down many barriers. He is one of the most athletic D-Ends in ISU history. He and Fizer have teamed up and anytime they cause a sack, they perform the crowd favorite "StapleFizer," which is eerily similar to the Gator chomp.

 

SAM Linebacker

 

Stevie Johnson 6-4 240

 

This one was easy. Johnson took a shot at playing linebacker back in 2000 and actually saw real game action. Fun fact: Stevie Johnson had the most tackles in the 2000 spring game.

 

MIKE Linebacker

 

Kantrail Horton 6-2 225

 

Horton is the emotional leader of the defense. He isn't the greatest athlete, but finds himself in the middle of a lot of plays. His intelligence is necessary to relay the complex defensive schemes of defensive coordinator Tim Floyd onto the rest of the defense. Horton always seems to play well against Kansas.

 

WILL Linebacker

 

Shawn Bankhead 6-4 235

 

A favorite of Floyd's, Bankhead is the most versatile player on the defense. He has the reputation of shutting down the opposition's best weapon. He has the speed to stay with a receiver and the size to stop the run. Iowa State equipment manager, Shawn Taggart, was asked to order an extra-large helmet for Bankhead's large dome, but Taggart refused and transferred to someplace that "respected his talent." To each their own.

 

Right Cornerback

 

Will Blalock 5-11 205

 

Blalock is the solid stalwart in the secondary. His freakish wingspan and 40 plus inch vertical disrupt passes and have earned him "Ellis Hobbsian" like respect from opponents. However, he is often overshadowed by the strong safety.

 

Strong Safety

 

Curtis Stinson 6-3 220

 

Stinson carries a wallop and isn't afraid to let you know about it. Head coach Johnny Orr loves his intensity and said, "Who-eee! Curtis can hit, but darn it, he gets flagged too much. Who-eee!"

 

Free Safety

 

Jamaal Tinsley 6-3 205

 

Tinsley's amazing vision is the reason he is feared throughout the entire country. He reads quarterbacks better than anyone else in the game. He sees things in slow-motion. And his confidence is remarkable. With a trip to Texas' Memorial Stadium on the horizon, Tinsley said, "I ain't scared. It's just another stadium."

 

Left Cornerback

 

Dedric Willoughby 6-2 185

 

The playmaker. Willoughby is known to step up in big spots. He takes chances on balls and is a master of avoiding blocks as if he is running around screens on the basketball court. His competitiveness rivals anybody else's in the Big 12.

 

Punt Returner

 

Ron Bayless 5-11 170

 

Pure electricity. Ron has the same potential as former ISU great return men J.J. Moses and James McMillion. He is quick as can be and never takes his foot off the gas.

 

Punter/Kicker

 

Jacy Hollaway 6-0 185

 

Coaching Staff

 

Head Coach- Johnny Orr

Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line- Larry Eustachy

Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers- Tim Floyd

Quarterbacks Coach- Jim Hallihan

Wide Receivers Coach/Recruiting Coordinator- Wayne Morgan

Running Backs Coach- Damon Archibald

Defensive Line Coach/Assistant Head Coach- Greg McDermott

Secondary Coach- Leonard Perry

Special Teams- Paul Shirley

Video Coordinator- Andrew Skoglund

 

Offensive Scheme:

 

The Cyclones run a single-back set that Eustachy named the "Tough Nut." The Cyclones like to get Thigpen touches early and establish their dominance up-front. Fizer is also utilized in the first stages of the game to pull the defense forward. Once the defense commits, Clark and Johnson attack deep. 

 

Defensive Scheme:

 

Floyd, with assistance from McDermott, change schemes and sets almost every play. They are relentless with the blitz and allow Blalock and Willoughby to man up in one-on-one coverage. Their "100 yards of hell" defense takes chances at every opportunity and creates plenty of turnovers. Floyd can often be seen on the sideline banging a program against his palm and throwing his headset after terrible calls by the side judge.     

 

Johnny Orr, unlike most coaches, enters the field after his team is already on the sideline, pumping his fist while being serenaded by the crowd, "Here's Johnny!" He goes for it on every 4th down and loves the no huddle offense. If things get stagnant, he is quick to pull the trigger and bring in back-up lefty QB Lafester Rhodes for an offensive spark.

 

One thing is certain: This team is bringin' the Magic to the Jack.

 

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and hear of other players who you think could crack the depth chart. Post your own depth chart on the State of the Nation message board.


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