Two senior skill players on the offensive side of the ball, running back DeVondrick Nealy and wide receiver Tad Ecby, have departed from the Iowa State football program. Paul Rhoads confirmed the moves during Wednesday’s press conference for National Signing Day.
SB Nation blog Wide Right, Natty Lite broke the story on Wednesday morning shortly after all the new signees in the class of 2015 were made official.
"If you follow message board chatter you know this is the worst kept secret in Ames, but multiple sources have said neither man has been around the program in the past few weeks and are seeking out the greener pastures of somewhere that isn’t the Bergstrom Football Complex."
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Rhoads would only mention that the two are no longer with the program and would not comment further.
There are multiple scenarios that have been brought up on why Nealy and Ecby are gone from the message boards. One of them is both players have already been punished multiple times and they left before they were going to get the eventual boot from failing a drug test. Another was displacement in the locker room and their personalities didn’t gel with the rest of the team.
That would make some sense for Nealy’s departure. He was the favorite to start at running back next season as a redshirt senior. It makes no sense for him to just voluntarily leave.
As for Ecby, it would be a tough road to get more playing time than Quenton Bundrage, D’Vario Montgomery, and Allen Lazard. He would have been a solid number four, but perhaps he wanted to be more than that. Still, he was also a redshirt senior like Nealy.
Nov 16, 2013; Norman, OK, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Tad Ecby (6) runs with the ball while being pursued by Oklahoma Sooners defensive backCortez Johnson
(22) in the second half at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
What being a redshirt senior means is that if one or both players were to transfer, they’d have to play at the FCS level. The NCAA requires you to sit for one year. The smarter move is to be a graduate transfer like multiple incoming seniors, such as DeAndre Kane and Bryce Dejean-Jones, were for Iowa State men’s basketball.
Losing two valuable seniors will look bad all around. It will make the coaching staff and the overall team look dysfunctional. But do you know what else looks bad? Winning five games in two years.
Just because Nealy and Ecby were seniors doesn’t mean they were highly touted athletes heading into next season. Nealy was more dual-threat and finished with 456 all-purpose yards (50 more rushing yards than passing) and two touchdowns in 12 games. Ecby had eight catches for 236 yards and three touchdowns.
Both of them had their moments last season, but lacked consistency. Aaron Wimberly took over at running back in the second half of the season and Ecby was mainly just a big play threat. All three of those receivers ahead of him can fill that role.
The good news is Iowa State has brought in four wide receivers and two running backs with some promise in the future. Not all of them will make an impact next year, but there may have been a big shift to get one or both tailbacks ready to get on the field in 2015.