Rhoads announces class of 22 for 2011


Photo: Huiling Wu/Iowa State Daily

Paul Phoads, Iowa state head football coach, speaks during a press conference on Feb. 2 in the Jacobson Building. Rhoads and the Cyclones opened fall camp Aug. 5 with their annual Media Day.

Jake Lovett

Iowa State has signed 22 recruits for the incoming class of 2011, a class coach Paul Rhoads called “balanced” during his announcement Wednesday afternoon.

The class features six players from the state of Iowa, five from each California and Texas and four more from Florida, and brings in players at each position on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

“As I’ve often said in recruiting: it’s not those that you don’t get in recruiting that hurts you,” Rhoads said. “It’s the guys that you do get that don’t pan out.”

The class is offense-heavy, bringing in 11 players to that unit alone. Three quarterbacks, two running backs and four wide receivers come into an offense that was 11th-best in the Big 12 in terms of scoring offense.

“We’re about right on the money with the numbers we want at every position group,” Rhoads said. “Running back and quarterback are two positions that at the high school level coaches often put their best athletes. You can’t ever sign enough guys from those two position groups.”

Scout.com ranked 11 Cyclone commits as three-star recruits, while Rivals.com has 13 new Cyclones at three stars, with the remaining players coming in at two stars.

“We’re not necessarily looking for the best players out there,” Rhoads said, “but we’re always looking for the right players that fit our program.”

Rhoads’ second full recruiting class is highlighted by three JUCO All-Americans, two Florida area players of the year, the son of an NFL offensive lineman and four junior college players from California.

Two of those, quarterback Steele Jantz and receiver Aaron Horne, played together at the City College of San Francisco and hooked up for 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Both were California Community College Football Coaches’ Association first-team All-Americans.

“I thought it’d be a good thing to get back with my quarterback that I was with before since we already had that connection,” Horne said.

Horne was recruited by schools like Hawaii, Cincinnati and Oregon, but ultimately chose Iowa State because the other schools didn’t “show him the love” the ISU coaches did.

The 5-foot-9-inch Oakland, Calif., native was also a punt returner, and will likely be one of few immediate contributors on the field from the 2011 class.

“Hopefully, I can change the program,” Horne said, “be a better player here than I was at JUCO.”

Jantz will compete for the starting quarterback spot in the spring, in a quarterback race that Rhoads called “wide open.”

“Every quarterback we have on our roster will be competing for that starting job on September third against the University of Northern Iowa,” Rhoads said.

Along with Jantz and Horne, the Cyclones also signed JUCO players center Sam Tautolo and tight end Ernst Brun. Both come in to positions that need filling after the graduation of Ben Lamaak and Collin Franklin. Tautolo, though, may be the surest bet to see the field during Iowa State’s opener with Northern Iowa on Sept. 3.

“They recruited me to come in and play right away,” Tautolo said. “Both centers that played before me were very good. I have to live up to the standards of those guys.”

The 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound center started for Saddleback Community College last season, and is following in the footsteps of Lamaak and Reggie Stephens, currently with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.
Tautolo — along with Jantz and Horne — is already on campus, taking part in the Cyclones’ offseason lifting and conditioning programs.
“Having him ready to line up in March to start spring ball really gives him a fighting chance to earn a starting spot,” Rhoads said.
The top Iowa recruit is Jevohn Miller, a 6-foot-1-inch linebacker from Brooklyn who has also already enrolled in school after graduating early from high school.
Miller has begun studying the defense with ISU linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott, also an Iowa native.
“He’s obviously helped me out a bunch,” Miller said. “[Knott] and A.J. Klein have been in the film room with me, trying to help me understand what they’re talking about with the defense.”

Rhoads said Wednesday that Miller’s highlight tape caught his attention, then at a camp during the summer, he continued to impress ISU coaches.

“He has a relentless motor,” Rhoads said “We looked at him as a linebacker, we looked at him as a defensive end. In the end, we knew we had a football player.”

An area the ISU coaches wanted to address entering the recruiting cycle was the defensive line. Returning to the Cyclones from 2010 are four players that saw varying amounts of playing time and combined for just 6.5 sacks last season.

Enter two additions to the defensive end position. 6-foot-1-inch West Des Moines Valley graduate Nick Kron, and 6-foot-7-inch San Jacinto, Calif., native David Irving, a player Rhoads feels is a potential steal.

“[Irving] is a gem of the class,” Rhoads said. “He was under-recruited as a football player, thought he was going to be a basketball player. We think he’s got a chance to be real steal for this class.”