Over the past few seasons, the Iowa State Cyclones have relied on several freshmen to play big time minutes.
Last year, Iowa State saw freshmen running back Mike Warren run for 1,339 yards and five touchdowns. Warren wasn’t the only freshmen to come up big time for the Cyclones, though. Freshmen cornerback Brian Peavy came up huge last season for Iowa State, recording a +11.4 coverage grade by Pro Football Focus which was No. 17 among all corners last season.
And in 2014, wide receiver Allen Lazard was second on the team in receptions (45) and receiving yards (593).
Iowa State’s 2016 recruiting class had a handful of talented recruits. However, not all of them will see the field in their first year in Ames, Iowa. Thereare three candidates who can make an impact for the Cyclones this season just like their predecessors did, though.
Chase Allen, Tight End
During the Paul Rhoads era in Ames, the tight end position was rarely used. In fact, the tight ends on the Cyclones’ roster last year only posted six receptions total. But, the usage of the tight end seems it will become more common under new head coach Matt Campbell.
The new coaching staff wants to utilize the tight end position more often in the passing game and is expected to utilize more two tight end sets. And with that philosophy in mind, that should open the door for incoming Chase Allen to see the field early in his Iowa State career.
Allen provides a big target for the Cyclones. He stands at 6-foot-6 and with that height, he can high-point the ball at its highest point. To further illustrate how talented Allen is, Iowa State beat out schools like Michigan and Nebraska for his services.
The only thing that could prevent Allen from seeing time in 2016 is his weight, as he weighs 225 pounds — which is small for a tight end. But if he can put the necessary muscle before the season starts, Allen could be the “Gronk” type tight end Campbell is looking for at the tight end position.
Kene Nwangwu, Running Back
How can a freshman running back contribute right away for Iowa State since the lead back is preseason All-Big First-Team selection Mike Warren? Well, Campbell is known to utilize two running backs.
When Campbell was the head man of the Toledo Rockets, his 2013, 2014 and 2015 teams all had two running backs who tallied more than 700 yards each. That statistic should carry over in his first year as the head coach of the Cyclones.
Last season, Warren was Iowa State’s main back with follow freshman Joshua Thomas utilized as the change of pace back. This offseason Thomas decided to transfer, though, which leaves the No. 2 running back position open.
There are a number of candidates to fill the No. 2 spot, but the back who may ultimately capture it is Nwangwu.
The three-star signee out of Texas is a tremendous athlete. The 6-foot-1, 182 pound back is a north and south runner who also possesses great speed which helps him break away on the outside. To add onto that, Nwangwu is a solid pass and run blocker as well. Nwangwu was also a touted track athlete to further show how tremendous of an athlete he is.
Tymar Sutton, Linebacker
The linebacker unit was seen as the weak link of the Cyclone defense entering the 2016 season. And the unit suffered a major blow with former starter Jordan Harris deciding to transfer to Louisiana Tech.
With that transfer, Pennsylvania native Tymar Sutton might take over Harris’ spot.
Sutton has the ability to play the run, rush the passer and even cover running backs/wide receivers out in the flat. The only downside to Sutton is his height, as he only stands at 5-foot-10. However, he does weigh 220 pounds, which is a solid weight for his frame.
Sutton seems like a clone of former Iowa State linebacker Jeremiah George, who had a fantastic career in the cardinal and gold.