One name that Cyclone recruiting enthusiasts will soon become more familiar with is David Garvin.
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Iowa State is already off to a great start in filling its 2003 class with eight commitments. Just as he has been in the past, Garvin is impressed with the way Coach Dan McCarney and his staff has hit the recruiting trail.
"The first thing that always comes to mind with Dan McCarney's recruiting is the players he gets become high profile once they get to Ames," said Garvin. "A lot of people will come to me and ask ‘where did this guy come from or where did that guy come from?' They've always been able to put a lot of great athletes on the field on both sides of the ball, especially at the skill positions like receiver, running back and of course the quarterback."
A long-time recruiting analyst around the Big 12 region, Garvin has taken notice of how McCarney's staff has recruited over the years.
"I respect Iowa State because they have to work harder to go out and find these guys," Garvin said. "With Texas, Florida State or Oklahoma, usually the players are finding them. Where Iowa State might not be able to compete to a certain extent with these guys, they'll go out and work hard with talent evaluation and have a sharper edge on these guys. It makes them a better coaching staff."
JUCO recruiting is another area that the Cyclones have excelled, and Garvin is impressed with how quickly transfers hit the field in Ames.
"Dan also has done a good job, like Bill Snyder at Kansas State, of going out and getting JUCOs at positions that he really needed to fill quickly," Garvin said. "They have turned out to perform more quickly than at other places. Sometimes these JUCOs come in and may need another year under their belt to get acclimated to Division I football. It really shows in the talent evaluation ability of Dan and his staff. A lot of people fall short in that area. It's a very tough job."
Quite a few of the high school players in the Cyclones' class are catching Garvin's eye, from the influx of skill players to an impressive crop of offensive linemen. The first two that come to mind are a pair of versatile players in Waterloo East wide receiver Milan Moses and Fort Dodge defensive end/linebacker Kurtis Taylor.
"Milan's a big, strong, and tough guy that will go over the middle for you and make the tough catch," Garvin said. "He's a good route runner. I think that he's going to have a big year this year. Iowa State was smart to go after him and get him committed early, because I see him putting up some really big numbers.
"He's probably going to be an outside type of guy because of his height. He can go deep and is a big target, but he's really tough and isn't afraid to go over the middle. That's really what Division I schools are looking for—the big, fast guy—like the Roy Williams type at Texas. Iowa State is coming onto that now and being able to recruit and get these guys. Moses really fits that bill."
Garvin thinks Taylor has as big an upside of any player in the class so far.
"I really love athletes because they can do so much for you," he said. "Kurtis Taylor is one I'm really high on. I think this kid's speed is going to improve. He could probably run a 4.5 or under a 4.5 in the right circumstances. I love a big, tall, rangy guy that can run like that, because he can help you in so many places. He will probably wind up being a linebacker or pass-rushing defensive end like (Reggie) Hayward."
ISU's lone commitment from out of state – Caleb Berg of Heartland, Nebraska – might be the latest player that McCarney steals away from the Huskers.
"I know Caleb Berg is from a small school in Nebraska, but the Huskers may end up kicking themselves since they didn't take a harder look at him early," Garvin said. "I know that Iowa State has broken Nebraska's heart on some other kids, too."
Perhaps the final obstacle in the way of McCarney's squad completing the turnaround, Garvin says, is solidifying the offensive line for the future. After signing an impressive class of preps last February, he is happy with the Cyclones' start this year. Dubuque Wahlert's Aaron Brant headlines a group of three offensive linemen that have committed for 2003.
"It's really odd, but usually a team that's trying to take the next step, that is the last piece of the puzzle," he said. "Getting the offensive line, getting it in place and not putting anyone out there until they've got a redshirt year and possibly another year and they're ready by the time they're third-year sophomores. That's where you've got to be comfortable in your program, so you're not having to rush guys out there that aren't ready. With Nebraska and some of those guys, they don't even hit the field until they're fourth-year juniors after the fifth-year seniors finally move on.
"Brant, Cook and Schmeling are the type of guys that are going to help Iowa State make that next step. With any offensive lineman, I don't necessarily look at their height, weight or strength that much, but instead their feet and mobility. If they can do that, they can pretty much make themselves a good or great offensive lineman once they get into the weight room and have a couple of years under their belt."
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