Five-Star Safety Will Be a Cyclone

Filling up on their helping of in-state players became the early plan for the Iowa State coaching staff. They did just that by landing some of the top players from Iowa and another from Nebraska. Now, the Cyclones have complemented that by landing their highest ranked out-of-state player.

Delray Beach (Fla.) hard-hitting safety Brandon Owens, pegged as the top player at his position by The Insiders, committed to ISU Wednesday morning after a visit from head coach Dan McCarney and assistant Marty Fine.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has spurned several scholarship offers, including ones from Florida, Georgia and Kansas State, to join his friend and teammate Steve Allen.

"Coach McCarney, Coach Fine and both (Owens' and Allen's) parents were there (in the meeting)," said Atlantic assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Jim Maloney. "They discussed a little bit about the visits and how they felt about them. They both liked the visit, felt comfortable in the environment and with the coaches and players. They really felt like it was a great fit for them."

Both Owens and Allen took their official visits to ISU last weekend and were impressed enough to both make commitments in a three-day span. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Allen made his decision shortly before leaving Ames on Sunday morning.

"Initially I didn't know how big of an impact it was, but in talking to Brandon and Steve today they both felt that it was very important that they play together," Maloney said. "They grew up playing together here in town on the local little league team. They've played together all their life and they felt like it'd be a neat thing to continue that on to college.

"We're all very excited that they made their commitment to Iowa State. Iowa State's getting a couple of special players that won a lot of football games for us."

In an interview earlier this week with The Insiders' Jamie Newberg, Owens had great things to say about his trip to Ames.

"It was a nice visit," he said. "I really like the coaching staff. Everyone there gets along so well. I like their scheme and I think I could play right away."

Owens is an impact player in next February's signing class and Maloney feels his standout defensive back has the opportunity for immediate playing time.

"Brandon told me that he thought he'd be able to get on the field at some position early," Maloney said. "Coach McCarney said they were recruiting him as an athlete. They haven't really figured out what position yet, because he has so much athletic ability that they could plug him in at several different positions. Brandon felt good about that and liked the idea of being with Steve."

Maloney has a feeling that Owens might stay put.

"The position I see him at is strong safety," Maloney said. "He's got such a big frame right now. Once he gets up there and starts eating their three meals a day and living in the weight room under the tutelage of their strength coach, he's just going to blow up. He's going to be a huge safety and might even be moved up to play weak-side or outside linebacker. It depends on how big he gets."

Wherever Owens ends up his size, speed and athleticism will help pay dividends for ISU. Lining up at strong safety this season, he made 120 tackles and four interceptions, returning two of those for touchdowns. Owens also had one fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Special teams is also an area in which he excelled, as he returned a punt and kickoff for touchdowns while racking up 391 kickoff and 280 punt return yards.

Owens figures to get more postseason awards in the coming weeks and has already been named All-Area by the Palm Beach Post and Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

He appears to be making strides in the classroom as well. The future criminal justice major has a 2.3 GPA, but says he has worked hard in the classroom this fall and is close to qualifying.

Owens is the 19th ISU commitment for the 2003 signing class and third from the state of Florida, joining Allen and Citra North Marion running back Mike West.

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