If there’s any part of the Iowa State football team to really get excited about, this is the group. Featuring the most depth of any position, the wide receiver corps could be one of the best in the Big 12.
Yes, that last line will be laughed at by every other Big 12 school, but the potential is there if the Cyclones can get a quarterback that can provide them the ball and an offensive line that can protect the QB. There’s a ton of returning talent and there’s the addition of one of the most exciting Cyclone recruits in a long time.
On top of that, you add Mark Mangino as the offensive coordinator and his son, Tommy Mangino, as the wide receivers coach. They obviously have one thing in mind — give this group the ball.
The returnees include players like Quenton Bundrage, who had three 60-plus yard touchdowns last season and led the team in catches (48) and receiving yards (676). His nine touchdowns ranked third in the conference.
There’s also Jarvis West, who will also be the designated kick returner, Tad Ecby, and Dondre Daley, who all at one point started for Iowa State. And I haven’t even gotten to the best part of the group — the excitement of two newcomers.
Player to watch: Who else am I going to put here? Allen Lazard was once regarded as the top wide receiver prospect in the nation, and despite getting offers from a lot of tradition-rich schools in football, Lazard has steadily stared the Cyclones down from day one. He never publicly wavered from his commitment, and he even tried bringing in other talent like Tommy Mister, who ultimately committed somewhere else.
That dedication will likely translate to his play on the field. He has family history related to the team, and he has a lot of fire to be the best out there.
Don’t expect over 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns for a true freshman, but Lazard has the potential skill set to lead the Cyclones offense for 3-4 years right out of the gate and gain some national attention while making the football team nationally relevant for the first time since the turn of the century.
Newcomer to watch: Lazard has the spotlight as a newcomer, but don’t forget — there’s also D’Vario Montgomery, a former four-star prospect, that transferred to Iowa State and will finally be eligible to play this season. He will have three years of eligibility. He has ties with Sam Richardson, who threw him he ball in high school.
There likely won’t be that tandem unless Richardson wins the quarterback battle in August, but there’s certainly a lot of excitement here. In Montgomery’s last two seasons in high school, he caught 96 catches for 1,662 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Projection: This wide receiver corps is jacked to the moon in talent, and a lot of it comes from Florida. Bundrage, Daley, P.J. Harris, Montgomery– and all of them have talent.
The greatest thing about this unit is that it’s already favored as the best group on the team and they’re incredibly young. Lazard is a freshman, Daley, Harris, and Montgomery are all sophomores.
There are no excuses for quarterbacks to say that had “no one to throw to”. With so many options on the table, all Iowa State needs to be more concerned about is finding the right quarterback who can throw the ball to them. There’s no reason the Cyclones can’t get over 200 receiving yards in every game this year. Zero.
Hopefully we’ll see some nationally recognized stars being born this year.