Brock Purdy impresses his coach
Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — Iowa State wide receiver Tarique Milton heard the question all summer long: How was Iowa State going to be able to replace the explosive playmaking abilities of Hakeem Butler? Well, Milton always had an answer to the question.
“I just wanted to show coach (offensive coordinator Tom) Manning that I could be the taking the top off type of guy, going deep or turning a five-yard reception into an 80-yard reception type of guy,” Milton said.
Over the last two weeks, Milton had made a compelling case. The sophomore wide receiver has already established himself as one of the biggest playmakers for Iowa State, which begins Big 12 Conference play at Baylor on Saturday.
“The last few games, you’ve seen Tarique Milton be a consistently really dynamic football player,” said Iowa State coach Matt Campbell. “He’s got all those tools and all that kind of ability.”
Those tools, especially his speed, have been on full display so far this season. Through the first three games of the season, Milton leads Iowa State in receiving yards (304) and ranks third in receptions (13). He also ranks 11th nationally in yards per catch (23.4) and 14th in the nation in receiving yards per game (101.3).
The big playmaking ability has shown that the Cyclones offense does indeed have a life without Butler, a former star wide receiver for Iowa State who is now in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals. And Milton, a 5-foot-11, 183-pound wide receiver, could be the answer to that big void.
“I’m a big fan of Tarique and he’s a guy that has all those tools to be that consistent football player that we need him to be for us to be as successful as we can be,” Campbell said.
Campbell believes that Milton showed signs of that in the past. As a redshirt freshman in 2018, Milton finished second on the team in receiving yards (417) and third in receptions (34). But what really caught the attention of Campbell was Milton’s performances against Kansas State and Oklahoma State. During Iowa State’s win over the Wildcats, Milton had two catches for 71 yards including a 41-yard reception. Against the Cowboys, Milton tallied four catches for 98 yards including a 60-yard touchdown grab.
“He made big plays in big moments for this football team and you even go to the Kansas State game a year ago or you go to the Oklahoma State game a year ago — he knows how to make big plays,” Campbell said.
Those big plays have been showing up in big ways this season. During Iowa State’s 18-17 loss to the Hawkeyes, Milton hauled in a 73-yard touchdown pass. A week later against Louisiana-Monroe, he added another 73-yard touchdown catch.
“They’re trying to find many ways to use my speed and that’s what we’re doing,” Milton said.
It’s a lot like what Iowa State tried to do with Butler and big his frame. The goal was to let Butler use his size to overpower defenders with big plays. While Milton doesn’t have the size of Butler, he does have better speed. So tapping into that has been what has led to the Cyclones getting some of the big plays they got from Butler, from Milton.
“When Tarique gets the ball, he’s really explosive and speedy,” said Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy.
Milton’s success isn’t just because Butler isn’t around anymore. Campbell said Milton’s strong sophomore season so far is because he’s taken advantage of the opportunity of Butler’s departure.
“He’s got all those tools and all that kind of ability,” Campbell said. “He’s practiced that way through the spring, practiced that way through much of fall camp and he’s starting to reap the rewards of what he’s put into this.”
Source: Des Moines Register