Iowa State coach Matt Campbell following his team’s second spring workout
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AMES, Ia. — Iowa State not only will have multiple NFL draft choices for the first time since linebacker A.J. Klein to Carolina and tackle Carter Bykowski to San Francisco in 2013, but the Matt Campbell-led program will have at least a second-rounder for the first time since Kelechi Osemele to Baltimore in 2012.
Tell us something we don’t know?
Maybe, but now that spring ball was set to end on Saturday, let’s spring ahead. Let’s predict Iowa State and Big 12-related stuff, starting with this week’s draft, and ending where the Cyclones could be headed for the postseason.
The list is for entertainment purposes only, so if you’re planning to use it as a guide for when sports gambling becomes legal — don’t blame me if you’re out a few bucks.
Here are 11 other guesses to consider as we anxiously await the start of another wonderful college football season.
And in the second round …
The Kansas City Chiefs select Hakeem Butler from Iowa State.
With the Chiefs having two second-round picks — Patrick Mahomes passing to Butler seems like an intriguing notion.
The Cyclones haven’t had a wide receiver drafted since the New York Giants picked Tracy Henderson in the fifth round of the 1985 draft. That 33-year drought will end — guaranteed.
David Montgomery, the other Iowa State star that left after his junior season, will be the first Cyclones’ running back picked since Troy Davis to the Saints in the 1997 third round. Don’t be surprised if Montgomery goes in that round, too.
More catches for ISU tight ends
No one’s anticipating tight ends combining for 48 catches, like in 2014 when E.J. Bibbs caught 45 and Brett Medders nabbed the other three. Don’t be surprised, though, if it’s more than the second-best total since then — last season’s 25.
The 2019 group of Charlie Kolar, Chase Allen and Dylan Soehner comprises the Cyclones’ best tight depth in a while. They’ve worked their way through the system. Allen and Soehner were part of the 2016 recruiting class. Kohler joined them a season later. They’re seasoned. They’re good. They’re due.
“It’s an older group of guys that’s finally ready to take that last step and play to a standard that coach Campbell expected when we got here,” tight ends coach Alex Golesh said.
They’ll still block on jumbo packages. They’ll line up off the line of scrimmage. They’ll split out. They’ll not only refine learning from Golesh, the guy that recruited them, but they’ll also gather wisdom from offensive coordinator Tom Manning, who coached tight ends in the NFL last season.
“We’re not just pass-protecting,” Allen said. “We’re playing all over the field. We all found a new love of football.”
Nwangwu starts at running back
There’s no clear-cut heir to the Iowa State tailback position that’s featured Montgomery rushing for 1,000-plus yards the past two seasons, so let’s go something like this — Kene Nwangwu starts the Aug. 31 opener against Northern Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium.
He’s been very good during his first healthy spring practice, which, I know, doesn’t translate to 1,000 rushing yards during the course of a season in which you’re facing each Big 12 team while playing in the only conference in which everyone plays everyone.
The ripped Achilles tendon happened long ago. He’s fully recovered, and ready to embark on what could be a most versatile journey.
He’s a running back. He’s a flanker. He can catch passes out of the backfield. He’ll return kicks.
“We want to be creative in different ways to get him the ball,” Manning said. “We have to find different ways to get Kene the football early in football games — to get him into a groove.”
True freshman Breece Hall will be a factor, too. And so could Jirehl Brock when he gets to campus in June. Hall participated in spring ball, after enrolling for the spring semester. He’s got that freshman advantage.
Big 12 MVP: Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts
Fascinating stuff, this graduate transfer from Alabama. A few minutes from leading the Crimson Tide to the 2016 national championship to backing up Tua Tagovailoa the next two seasons — and now he’s the grad-transfer quarterback at a school that’s produced the last two Heisman Trophy winners.
I don’t even know right now who’d be a logical MVP runner-up. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger or Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy? Probably depends on how their teams finish.
Texas snaps Oklahoma Streak
That’s right. Tom Herman’s Longhorns stop the Sooners’ Big 12 title string at four.
Texas wins, followed by Oklahoma, Iowa State, Baylor and TCU — and then comes West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Kansas.
And if you’re into ranking the new coaches as per the standings, that’d be: Neal Brown (West Virginia), Matt Wells (Texas Tech), Chris Klieman (Kansas State) and Les Miles (Kansas).
Most ISU receptions, Milton or Jones?
It’ll be close, but let’s go with Tarique Milton, who’ll get the first opportunity to be the deep threat. The 5-foot-10, 176-pounder caught 34 passes for 417 yards during a season in which now-gone Hakeem Butler was the deep threat.
“Tarique can run up on people, and then get past them,” receivers coach Nate Scheelhaase said. “Tarique is savvy. He’s smart. He understands how the game works. He understands coverages.”
Purdy promised to spread around his passes, which could mean a healthy dose to the flanker, where Deshaunte Jones had 43 receptions for 366 yards in 2018.
Regardless who has the most receptions, it won’t be more than the 60 that Butler caught in 2018.
ISU’s upset special
Like at No. 3 Oklahoma, and at home against fourth-ranked TCU in 2017. In 2011, it was over second-ranked Oklahoma State.
Depends on who’s ranked where on game day, but if Texas comes to Ames on Nov. 16 — then it’s against the Longhorns.
Cyclones vs. Hawkeyes = GameDay?
Can’t tell you the last time I picked Iowa State to win this game, so with that on the table …
Cyclones beat Hawkeyes for the first time since 2014, and let’s add this caveat:
If Iowa State opens the season with a win against Northern Iowa, and if Iowa goes 2-0 against Miami of Ohio and Rutgers, then they’ll be considerable chatter about ESPN’s College Football GameDay folks coming to Ames for the first time on Sept. 14.
Banner season by Kansas standards
New Jayhawks coach Les Miles will win as many Big 12 games during his first season at the basketball school than David Beaty (2-34) did four.
Crazy? Maybe, but Kansas faces each of the Big 12’s new coaches in Lawrence.
So there’s that.
Iowa State’s over-under for wins
Let’s set it at eight. Over or under?
A season after playing a front-heavy schedule, Campbell’s team opens 2019 with three games at home — against Northern Iowa, Iowa and Louisiana-Monroe. Then it’s at Baylor, back home against TCU, at West Virginia and at Texas Tech, and then at home against Oklahoma State, before consecutive games at Oklahoma and at home against Texas.
Goin’ to Disney World
If Iowa State isn’t picked for one of the New Year’s Six bowl games, then it’s the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando.
The Cyclones might be good enough to be in Alamo Bowl consideration, however given that bowls rarely invite the same team in consecutive seasons — that’s why Disney World is a likely destination.
Right now, at least.
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