Blythe set for finale

Brett Mcintyre

With only one chance left for ISU fans to see the most productive receiver in school history play in person, fans might be feeling a little nostalgic.

Todd Blythe however, is not.

“Right now it still feels like any other week to me,” Blythe said. “You can tell me over and over this is my last home game, but it really won’t sink in I think until after this game.”

Blythe isn’t really oblivious to the fact that Saturday will be the last time he plays inside Jack Trice Stadium, but he said he is trying to keep the week as normal as possible to eliminate any “distractions” that would take his focus off winning the game.

And that attitude is exactly what coach Gene Chizik said he loves about Blythe and all the seniors: the drive to win, no matter the circumstances.

No matter that it was determined weeks ago that there would be no reward, no final postseason for the seniors and their hard work, no reward for not giving up after losing to Texas Tech and Texas by a combined score of 98-20.

“I’ve only known these [seniors] about 10 months and I have developed an unbelievable amount of respect for who they are, what they bring to the table every week,” Chizik said. “It’d be hard for me to know who they are if we were 10-0 right now. But I know who they are right now because we’ve had to go through a lot of hard times.

“Every week they come back, they practice, they don’t worry about if they get their playing time. They don’t worry about how many balls they catch or if they’re the starter. They’ve tried to really work in the right direction at times when it does not look good and to me that tells me a lot about a guy.”

And while Chizik is quick is to point to the leadership the seniors have provided this year, Blythe tries to make a point that he hasn’t approached this year – as a senior – any differently than his previous three seasons.

“We’ve tried to [set an example] ever since we got there,” Blythe said. “It’s not something that all of a sudden as a senior you say ‘I have to work real hard this so the young guys will take note.’ That’s something that I think myself and a lot of the seniors pride ourselves on. If I would all of a sudden make more of an effort this year, it means I wasn’t doing it in the past. [My work ethic] is something that I take a lot of pride in.”

Chizik said that Blythe is right to take pride in his work ethic.

“I think their leadership for our team has been huge,” Chizik said. “I think a lot of the young guys look up to them and when our guys look up to those two I think they’re looking up to the right guys.”

Blythe and his teammates

One of the things Blythe said he points to as something he will hold on to after leaving Iowa State is the friendships and relationships he’s built with his teammates during his time in a Cyclone uniform.

“The locker room things, the things other people don’t get to see [is what I’ll miss],” Blythe said. “Sitting around before practice or after a game we win. The locker room atmosphere is something other people don’t get to see. The whole locker room atmosphere, that’s something I’ll miss and something I’ll remember forever.”

After battling to back-to-back bowl games in 2004 and 2005 and then just five wins in the past two seasons, a strong bond was forged among all the players, something Blythe said will last forever.

“The relationships I have and all the guys in the senior class . the relationships with all my teammates, that’s something the people on the outside don’t get to see,” Blythe said. “If you see us out on the town or in the mall it’s always a group of four, five, six guys.

“We’re with each other for six, seven hours a day watching film, lifting, practicing, doing football stuff, and then for some reason we go home and hang out with each other some more. It’s just one of those things where you form that relationship with guys so close through the hard work, all the sweat and the blood, the good times and the bad times. That’s where that bond is formed.”

Blythe has had an especially strong bond with his quarterback Bret Meyer.

Meyer and Blythe both started as redshirt freshmen in 2004 and over the past four years have become the most prolific tandems in ISU history and one of the most prolific in the nation.

The duo has lived together for the past four years, and in the process has built a strong connection that fueled their success.

“We have such a close relationship off the field and we’ve been through so much on the field I think it definitely means a lot that we’ve gone through so many ups and downs together,” Blythe said. “It’s been real important [to our success].”

The bond between Meyer and Blythe – and all the seniors – has been especially important during the past 12 months.

After going through a coaching change last winter and enduring a second consecutive losing season, it has been a trying time for the Cyclones’ class of seniors.

Blythe has watched Meyer, among other starters, come under fire from fans and media and has heard the calls for the seniors to be benched in a move to play for the future with younger players, and that’s something Blythe takes exception to.

“What they say . for them to try and pass judgment on the players on this team and to watch the little bit that we can actually put out there for them to see on Saturday compared to the whole body of work – just the things they can’t see like the leadership and the stuff in the locker room, it’s hard for me to listen to people say certain things [like that],” Blythe said. “But that’s their right as fans, but at the same time we don’t let them affect what we do.”

Blythe’s accomplishments

Since Blythe burst onto the scene in Ames as a redshirt freshman, catching a school-record nine touchdowns, the records and accolades have piled up:

ISU career leader in receptions with 170. Most receiving yards ever by a Cyclone with 2,952. Most career touchdown catches by an ISU receiver with 29. Fifth all-time for touchdown catches by a Big 12 receiver. Fourth in the nation in career receiving yards by an active player.

“I don’t think you can really sit there as a freshman and say ‘I’m going to set this record and this record,'” Blythe said. “It’s just stuff that happens through hard work and being put in the right position to do things.”

But Blythe still had the attitude and the confidence he would be able to do big things in a Cyclone uniform.

“When I came in as a freshman, I knew I was going to redshirt and be able to learn from a great group of senior receivers,” Blythe said. “I was hoping to be able to come out that next year as a redshirt freshman and make plays. I knew that I had the physical abilities and I knew the coaches were going to put me in position to be able to do that.”

Although Blythe has all the personal records he could have ever imagined, he still wishes he could have done more to help the Cyclones win more games.

But, he said, when he walks onto, and off of, the field at Jack Trice Stadium for the final time Saturday afternoon, he will do so without any regrets.

“Obviously I came here to win ball games and this year and last year we didn’t do as much of that as I had hoped,” Blythe said. “But as far as things that I have done and the friends that I have made, no regrets at all.”