Two key factors were at work as Iowa State was assembling its football recruiting class of 2007 on the run with a new coaching staff: treading familiar territory to save time and replenishing the talent base along the beleaguered offensive line. James Carpenter of Hephzibah, Georgia, fits that profile on both fronts. He talked to Cyclone Nation, alongside his high school coach John Bowen, about his decision to sign with ISU.
Cyclone Nation: Why Iowa State?
Carpenter: I decided to come to Iowa State because of Coach Fountain from Georgia Southern. I liked him and trusted him. Plus Iowa State is in the Big 12, one of the best conferences in the land. I'm also excited about showing the coaches how good I can be.
Cyclone Nation: Coach, what are James' strengths as a prospect?
Bowen: James is big, fast, strong and quiet. He was the heart of our team. We ran behind him nearly 90% of the time, if you count the plays on which he pulled. His size, speed and power are strengths. I would like to see better man-on drive blocking straight ahead from him, but I do believe he can develop into a starter in two years. The sky is the limit for him if he listens to the coaches and does the right things.
Cyclone Nation: Can you think of one particular moment about his high school career that stands out?
Bowen: The one thing that stands out in my mind about James was his performance against Thomson High School, which is the powerhouse school in our region. He was one of the first men down on the punt coverage team nearly all night. At that size, that's pretty impressive.
Carpenter: My proudest moment this past season was beating our rival Butler in a big game and being named Augusta Golden Corral Player of the Week.
Cyclone Nation: What are schools did you consider other than ISU?
Carpenter: I considered Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern and Alabama A&M. My family keeps joking that Iowa State is too far away but they are proud of me and happy to see me doing something positive with my life and my career.
Cyclone Nation: What advice does Coach Bowen have for you?
Carpenter: My coach stressed I'll be playing against the best of the best, and to prepare for how cold it gets in Ames. The competition will make me better. I dominated every game this fall. I averaged seven pancakes per game.
Bowen: That's why my advice to him has been work hard and do what you are supposed to do and be where you are supposed to be and everything will fall into place.
So far Carpenter is undecided on a major, but he's quite decisive in the weight room boasting a 400-pound bench press.