Bettendorf’s Darien Porter sets the all-time record in the 400-meter dash. The senior won the Class 4A state title in 46.99 seconds.
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AMES, Ia. — Matt Campbell knew Darien Porter was fast. That’s one of the major reasons he recruited the Bettendorf flash to play receiver for his Iowa State football team.
How fast is Porter? Fast enough to already have the words “elite speed” included in his introductory bio — and those words actually mean something.
“Wow,” Campbell responded when asked about the incoming freshman who was a star at last week’s boys’ state track meet in Des Moines. “That’s elite speed.”
Porter’s farewell to an illustrious prep sports career was running the fastest 400 meters in Iowa high school history — a 46.99-second clocking that ranks 12th nationally, according to Chris Cuellar of the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
So I had to ask: You recruited Porter to catch passes, but what if he wants to run track at Iowa State, too. Any problem with that?
Campbell didn’t even pause while we chatted before a Cyclones Tailgate Tour stop in Knoxville last week.
“We haven’t talked about it, but we’ve had guys that did that,” the coach reminded me. “Trever (Ryen) did it. Jomal Wiltz ran a little, too.
“I don’t have any problem with that. I see it as a positive. If it’s something that Darien wants to do, then I wouldn’t have an issue with it.”
What does Porter think of that idea?
“I haven’t totally made a decision on that yet,” Porter said in a text message. “My main focus is football, of course, and I’d like to get up there and grow as a football player and get through that season, before I make a choice on running or not.
“But it is a pretty enticing idea.”
The 6-foot-4 Porter caught 27 passes for 440 yards and seven touchdowns while helping 10-2 Bettendorf reach the Class 4A state football semifinals. He also rushed for 208 yards and three touchdowns.
And there’s this, too: Just nine Iowa State track athletes have run a faster outdoor 400 meters — in the history of the school — than what Porter ran at Drake Stadium.
“The moral of his story is here’s a kid that could have graduated early, but stayed in (high) school with a sense of purpose,” Campbell said. “This was his goal and aspiration, and to be able to do that was really fun to watch.
“It shows you what kind of kid he is.”
It also shows something about Campbell’s ability to recruit speed — something that was lacking with the team he inherited in 2016.
It’s not like Iowa State football has always been a haven for speedsters. That’s something Campbell noticed right away.
“I think the overall development in strength and speed were areas that we tried to focus on,” he said. “I don’t mean to say that in a negative way of what was here before. There’s a certain level where, in this conference, you need speed to be successful. We’ve tried to focus on that.”
Everyone says running back Kene Nwangwu is the team’s fastest player. Receivers Landen Akers and Tarique Milton are quick, too. So’s backup quarterback Re-al Mitchell.
It would be interesting to see a race with those four, plus Porter. As fast as the rookie is, however, I’d still take Nwangwu in a short race — but probably Porter in his 400 specialty.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @RandyPete.—
Source: Des Moines Register