Q&A with Recruiting Coordinator Don Knock

Facing off against Florida State on national television is huge for the Iowa State football program in a lot of ways, including recruiting. The Cyclones made the commitment to hit the Sunshine State hard even before Coach Dan McCarney arrived in Ames, as the previous coaching regime hauled in Miami Southridge product Troy Davis. That continued in McCarney's second year on the job with the additions of Darren Davis.

Entering Saturday's game, seven different Cyclones in the two-deep played high school ball in the state of Florida (Emmanuel Valcourt, Hiawatha Rutland, Cephus Johnson, Matt Word, Marc Timmons, Atif Austin and Johnny Smith).

But that number could increase even more in the seasons to come, thanks to ISU's draw in the season-opening Eddie Robinson Classic in Kansas City. To get a gauge on just how important this game could be, CN sat down with director of football operations Don Knock for a Q&A.

CN: Having a big role in the Cyclone recruiting arena, what are your thoughts of playing this game?

Knock: Our Florida kids on the team right now are real excited about this game. They're tremendously excited about playing Florida State in Kansas City, because of the Florida connection obviously.

We do recruit in Florida and have Chris Ash and Marty Fine down there. There's no question that a game of this magnitude, being on national television and in Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium is going to bring the Iowa State program again to the forefront just like it's done in the last two years with the bowl games.

The fact that we're playing a Florida State, just like last year playing an Alabama, those name places and the success and tradition that exists in those places is definitely a positive for our recruiting program. That shows in what's happened in what's happened the last year or two with the recruiting, simply because of that exposure that our team gets.

CN: How much do you think the coaches are using that in their Florida recruiting?

Knock: We haven't been able to use it so much in terms of recruiting so far in Florida, but we will use it now when we go back to Florida. With the announcement of the game, maybe a little bit of it was used in the spring with some of the recruiting that we did down there at that time.

More of it's probably going to be used now. Once they go into schools and say, ‘remember we played Florida State in the Eddie Robinson Classic?' I think it brings attention to the program after the fact more than it did before the fact.

CN: Since you are playing the game this season, is the staff making a bigger effort to recruit that state this year?

Knock: There's no question. That's something you have to do when you're in a situation where you're playing a Florida State. There are so many quality players in Florida. That's something that we automatically do.

Will that show in terms of manpower? There is some talk about that, in terms of what we may do in re-structuring some of our plan in Florida. That's still in the thought process. It's something that pays benefits, just like if you play a Texas school or in Texas in a bowl game. It would be the same affect.

CN: How many coaches have recruited the state of Florida in the past?

Knock: There was a period of time where we had two in Florida, like two years ago when I was here. There was a time period in there that we only had one. Now we're back to having two in there again. We may have a third in there part-time. It's something we're considering."

CN: What are the areas that your two assistants are covering right now?

Knock: Primarily Coach Ash is more in central Florida. When you send two guys down there, you have to be selective in the areas that you hit. Really, if you put a pin in Orlando and you kind of went 75 miles north and 75 miles south right across the state of Florida, from Tampa, Orlando and Daytona Beach, that's Coach Ash. Coach Fine goes more into West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. He kind of works that eastern coast in that area. The only area that we're thinking about doing a little more in is northern Florida in the Jacksonville area. CN: ISU already had a presence in Florida with the Davis brothers, but how much of a boost does your recruiting get with this game?

Knock: It gives it a big boost. You still go down into those schools and talk about Troy and Darren Davis. It hasn't been that long ago and they're still playing in the CFL. You can still bring up those names as well as many of those names that we have on our football roster currently. It's just a re-enforcement of the knowledge of the Iowa State program.

Even if Coach Bowden starts talking about Iowa State and mentioning Seneca Wallace and some of the other players on the team and the fact that he's talking about the game from that perspective, it helps. It's all part of the marketing.

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