Time is Now to Address Needs

With as many as three commitments already in the fold from this weekend, the Iowa State recruiting class is starting to take shape and remaining scholarships continue to dwindle.

Addressing needs on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the front seven, have become the focal point as the countdown to signing day is underway.

The Cyclones did a great job of taking care of a few of those, adding commitments from defensive linemen Matthew Scherbring, a 6-foot-3, 325-pounder from in-state program Oelwein, and Texas prep Nick Davidson. Scherbring is expected to begin his career as a tackle or nose guard, while the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Davidson will probably open at defensive end and gradually grow into an interior lineman.

Scherbring's name had been on ISU's radar screen for a while after he turned heads at last summer's padded camp in Ames. While it's uncertain if Scherbring can become the next Nick Leaders and alleviate the Cyclones' depth programs early in his career, getting a verbal from a hole-plugger like Scherbring is a positive sign for the future.

Davidson, of Hurst (Texas) Bell High School, has a similar build as former Cyclone defensive end Kevin DeRonde. But with time he'll put on 20 to 30 more pounds and could impact the depth chart within a few seasons.

The additions of Scherbring and Davidson, along with a prior commitment from Houston (Texas) Westfield's Brent Curvey, give ISU three future interior defensive linemen for '03.

The Cyclone staff could add yet another verbal late this week from Crowley (Texas) defensive lineman Marquay Love, who took his official visit to Ames last weekend. The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder has visits set for Arizona and SMU over the next two weeks. But that could change tomorrow with an in-home visit from ISU head coach Dan McCarney.

Even if McCarney doesn't sign another interior defensive lineman, he has addressed a problem area in the program – and more importantly – it didn't come by signing a potentially troublesome JUCO transfer.

Although his commitment was at a position where the Cyclones already had commitments from talented preps Brandon Owens and Caleb Berg, Dominique Flower provides the program a versatile athlete with great speed. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder played both free safety and wide receiver at Saint Petersburg (Fla.) Northeast.

Building depth at linebacker

Now onto the area of biggest need…linebacker. Mac's staff still needs to add around two or three linebackers to help continue building depth at the position. Iowa Central linebacker Gabe Toomey's decommitment hurt ISU's recruiting, as far as bringing in some immediate help.

The position may suffer in the short term, with Matt Word and Jeremy Loyd moving on. But some young faces from last season's class, especially Jimmy Morris and Kyle Smith, provide some hope in the future. The staff needs to complement its recent recruiting efforts with a big finish before Feb. 5.

The Cyclones have already secured commitments from Taylor Schrage of Aplington-Parkersburg H.S., Ron Prelow of Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson H.S., Kurtis Taylor of Fort Dodge H.S.; and Steve Allen of Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic H.S.

Among the names they're hoping to add to that list: Nick Moore of Arlington (Texas); Ronnie McCullough of Tampa (Fla.) Hillsborough; H.B. Blades of Plantation (Fla.); and Jocelin Clermond of Tampa (Fla.) Chamberlain.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Moore made his trip to Ames in December and had committed to Georgia Tech, but is now reconsidering his prior decision and will choose between the Yellow Jackets and Cyclones.

McCullough, rumored to be headed for South Florida after an official visit earlier this month, took his trip to ISU last weekend and is a big-time linebacker candidate. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder will choose between Auburn, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Virginia, Wisconsin and UConn.

The report of Blades' commitment to Pittsburgh was a little more accurate, but when the Panthers' linebackers coach headed for Clemson recently, the inside backer re-opened his recruitment. Blades visited Ames in December, and is seriously considering ISU, Auburn or a re-commitment to Pittsburgh.

Clermond also visited in early December, and is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound outside linebacker candidate. He's rumored to be considering Pittsburgh.

What could be next for Cyclones

The flurry of recruiting that comes in late January continues, as the ISU staff looks to add a few more commitments in the coming days. Who might those be? Let's start with the players we know visited campus last weekend.

Houston (Texas) Kashmere defensive end Jason Berryman will probably be the next commitment to report on. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound defensive end/outside linebacker prospect enjoyed his visit to Ames and fell in love with the snow central Iowa has to offer.

When he told Heartland Recruiting's David Garvin Monday he probably wouldn't take another official visit after taking his initial trip to Iowa State, Anthony Walker was probably giving Cyclone fans a sign of what's to come. The Oklahoma City Northeast H.S. offensive/defensive lineman had positive things to say about his visit and may also commit after an in-home visit this week.

CN is hearing that Berryman may be re-thinking his decision to visit Arizona this weekend. An in-home visit from ISU tomorrow night could seal the deal. Adding Berryman would address another area of need, as he'll most likely grow into a defensive end by the time he hits the playing field.

Upon returning from his visit to Ames, Denton (Texas) running back Anthony Alridge also had positive things to say about the Cyclones. However, in-state schools Texas A&M and Texas Tech are also in the running and may be tough to beat. Alridge has already visited the Aggies and says he has a trip planned to Lubbock for this weekend. Stay tuned.

The tight end question

With JUCO transfer James Wright (of Kilgore College in Texas) already signed, sealed and delivered, Cyclone fans are wondering just how many tight ends could figure into the mix. I've got the answer – two – and they look to be Brandon Timlin of San Diego (Calif.) Point Loma H.S. and Ben Barkema of Muscatine H.S.

The way Timlin (6-5, 225, 4.7) and Barkema (6-4, 220, 4.75) are talking makes it look as if ISU's not opposed to signing two tight ends. That's probably not a bad idea, either, since senior Kyle Knock was lost to graduation and quality depth at the position is relatively scarce.

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