Let's apply that same line of thinking to the 2002 Iowa State football season. Household names like Seneca Wallace, Jordan Carstens and Matt Word will always jump to the forefront, and rightfully so, but let's examine some players who are looking to take the next step towards becoming contributors this fall.
Here are nine players that we believe here at Cyclone Nation have a chance to emerge this season…
OL Cale Stubbe (6-3, 285, SO): Stubbe had spent his entire collegiate career on the defensive side of the ball. In addition to making a change in positions, he had to recover from a knee injury that ended his 2001 season. The sophomore won't be able to replace the size and experience of departed senior Cory Hannen, but he does have more athleticism at right tackle and has demonstrated the ability to learn his new position quickly.
WR David Banks-Bursey (5-9, 172, JR): If not for a severely sprained ankle that ultimately ended his 2001 season, Banks-Bursey could have been one of the team's biggest surprises last fall. Given a clean bill of health and a new confidence this spring, he demonstrated to coaches the skills that led them to sign him in the class of 2001. Banks-Bursey has decent speed to go deep, but has shown a knack for going over the middle and making drive-sustaining receptions. With Lane Danielsen, Jack Whitver, Lance Young and Jamaul Montgomery returning to action, Banks-Bursey doesn't look to be a starter quite yet, but the Cyclones like to use a lot of receivers and he could figure into the mix as the top reserve.
Jon Davis (6-3, 190, FR): A true freshman that enrolled in January, Davis came on with a vengeance in the spring and made a huge impression on Cyclone coaches. Yet, because of depth at wide receiver, he still has to continue to impress in preseason practice to avoid the redshirt tag. But a tall frame and better-than-average speed will make it hard to hold him out of action.
TE Kenny Segin (6-4, 249, SO): Will be the Cyclones' number two tight end behind Kyle Knock and is blessed with good hands and the best speed of any player at his position. Will get some opportunities to make plays in two-tight end sets.
K Adam Benike (5-10, 220, JR): Probably will need Tony Yelk's struggles to continue in order to be the starting short field goal and extra point man. If Yelk, who has a much stronger leg, finds his game then the reps will revert back to the way they were last season.
KR/PR/WR Todd Miller (5-8, 170, SO): Although Miller could get some opportunities as a reserve wideout, most of his contributions figure to come at kick and punt returner. He made his career debut in the Independence Bowl where he returned two kicks for 34 yards and a pair of punts for 15 yards. Miller showed even more spark and returned a number of attempts for touchdowns during spring drills. He enters fall as a first-team return man, but will have to hold off a host of other candidates.
DB Steve Paris (6-1, 193, R-FR): All of a sudden, the Cyclones are the strongest they've ever been at safety under Dan McCarney. Marc Timmons, Anthony Forrest and JaMaine Billups show up in everyone's radar screen. But don't forget Paris. Nicknamed ‘Greedy' by his high school teammates at Dallas (Texas) Roosevelt High School, Paris proved himself very worthy of that nickname this spring by becoming the top reserve safety in the defensive backfield. The converted wide receiver displayed the coverage skills to play free safety and they physical nature to also play strong safety. Like Timmons in 2000 and Forrest last season, Paris is a bright young redshirt freshman who should get plenty of playing time behind a pair of starters.
DL Nick Leaders (6-2, 280, FR): Coaches are already mentioning Leaders as one of the true freshmen that has the best chance to contribute right away. And he wasted no time in earning a two-deep spot early in training camp as a backup to Tim Tebrink. Leaders already has the frame to play on the interior defensive line, and could be a special teams candidate right away.
SLB Korey Smith (6-4, 210, FR): Given the lack of depth and injury history at SAM linebacker, Smith could easily climb the depth chart and possibly beat out Erik Anderson for the role of backing up Jeremy Loyd. A product of Kirkwood High School in St. Louis, Smith was recruited by some big-name schools.