Addressing Some Needs

Perhaps Iowa State's two biggest areas of immediate need after this season are at linebacker and offensive line. Looking to fill these voids, the Cyclone coaching staff is hot on the trail of Justin Burks and Anthony Guerrero of Cerritos College in southern California.

Burks, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker, currently has offers from LSU, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona State and ISU. He's already taken an official visit to Florida and will head to Ames the weekend of Dec. 6-7.

A mammoth 6-foot-2, 320-pound offensive guard, Guerrero has also gotten offers from the Cyclones and Gators, along with Nebraska. N.C. State has also expressed interest. He and Burks will take their official visits to ISU on the same weekend.

"(Iowa State defensive coordinator John) Skladany always comes out and recruits our area," said Cerritos recruiting coordinator and offensive line coach. "He knows our conference really well. He was out here doing his spring recruiting, we told him about those guys and I'm sure he saw them on film right away. Since the beginning of the year, those guys have been getting mail and just recently the phone calls have started.

"If Iowa State was able to land one or both of those guys, it would be a huge thing for them. They are two of the most highly recruited guys in California."

Cerritos is currently ranked second in the nation by Gridwire and has gotten significant contributions from the pair of sophomores this fall. One thing that has drawn D-I programs to Burks and Guerrero is that they're eligible to transfer at mid-term.

Burks a product of Bellflower High School, spent his redshirt freshman season at UTEP before transferring closer to home prior to last fall. He's taken his game to another level in 2002. After recording 41 tackles and three sacks in his first year of JUCO ball, he now leads the Mission Conference in tackles.

He's one of the top prospects in the talent-rich California JUCO ranks.

"We call him the ‘Burks Factor,' because he's the guy on our defense," said Cerritos head coach Dave Mazzota. "He's the real deal as far as an athlete. I don't know of a school this side of the Atlantic Ocean that's not talking to him. He can run, is strong, intelligent and has a great knack for the ball.

"He's a guy that can come off the edge. We do some blitz stuff with him. He can come off the edge. Even if you got him down in a three-point and rushed the quarterback, he could do that. He can play over a tight end or play out in space and do well. He would be an awesome WILL, because you could uncover him, get him down and come off the edge. There are a lot of things you could do with him."

Mazzota has been particularly impressed with Burks' accomplishments off the field, as the playmaking linebacker from a rough environment in south central Los Angeles is on track to get a degree.

"He comes from the streets of south central L.A.," Mazzota said. "To have a guy from that area getting his degree and doing his academics and playing as well as he does is certainly a positive deal."

Many D-I college coaches look twice when first seeing Guerrero in person and watching him play. Mazzota relates the offensive guard's body frame to a ‘sack of sand.'

"Anthony is a little bit of an ugly-bodied guy," Mazzota said of Guerrero, who also was a solid basketball player in high school. "He looks like a stovepipe. His shoulders and everything, it looks like you could put him right in a cylinder and he'd come out straight. You just don't want to go by what you see. He's got really great feet, runs around and really plays well."

"I think he's really good at both. His run blocking is awesome and his pass blocking has been good, but we don't do a lot of it right now. He's really a good athlete and good player. He could play tackle and has good enough feet to play on the edge."

For having an awkward frame, Guerrero, a first-team all-conference performer last season, has turned D-I coaches on with his foot quickness.

"He's a big-time player and has some great tools," Caines said. "When you talk about recruiting big men and having big men be able to play for you, it's all about your feet. And he has tremendous feet. If he has any downside it's probably that he's not a great-looking guy. He's an ugly-bodied guy, but he can really play."

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