Iowa State football 2023 recruiting class: Who to watch


Iowa State head football coach Matt Campbell talks with reporters after Iowa State’s last spring football practice April 15 at Gilbert High School.

Anthony Hanson

Head coach Matt Campbell and the Iowa State football coaching staff have built a strong recruiting class for 2023.

247 Sports ranks the Cyclones 29th in the nation in the overall recruiting rankings for the 2023 class. It’s the highest ranking for any class Iowa State has put together with Campbell at the helm.

Headlining the class are some of Iowa high school football’s shining stars. JJ Kohl from Ankeny is one of Iowa State’s highest-rated recruits in recent memory. But the Cyclone coaching staff grabbed six recruits from the state of Iowa.

Here are three more future Cyclones fans need to have on their radar as the 2022 high school football season approaches.

Kooper Ebel

Listed as an athlete in recruiting databases, Ebel is a 6-foot 3-inch 200-pound quarterback and strong safety for Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn high school in Hartley, Iowa.

Ebel received eight offers from schools across the Midwest region, including Nebraska, Iowa and FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. He committed to Iowa State on June 13nt.

In his junior season, Ebel showcased a mix of strong plays in coverage and some big tackles for loss in the backfield. The three-star recruit played a mix of safety and linebacker on defense in high school.

Ebel had four interceptions in his junior season and led his team with 82.0 total tackles.

Ebel was recruited by Iowa State linebacker coach Tyson Veidt and fits the mold of the hybrid-safety or “star” position in the Iowa State defense previously played by Greg Eisworth.

Eisworth earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors for his play in the 2021 season. He led the team with two interceptions and helped out in stopping the run with several tackles for loss. Eisworth stands at 6-foot, 205-pounds, just five pounds heavier than Ebel.

Abu Sama

Sama is another athlete and three-star Iowan joining the Iowa State 2023 class. Out of Southeast Polk, Sama played running back and defensive back.

Sama is adept at breaking tackles and avoiding defenders. He was utilized as the ball-carrier in a zone running scheme and as a kick returner, where Sama is a threat to score.

Sama is a proven winner in multiple sports. His offensive production helped Southeast Polk to a state championship a season ago and Cyclone fans should keep an eye on Sama come track season. Sama reached the Iowa high school track and field season in four separate events. Sama represented Southeast Polk in the 100 meter and long jump events and was a part of two state qualifying relay teams.

Sama came out on top of the long jump at the state championship to cap off his junior season. His winning jump of 24-10 at the Drake Relays is now the all-time state record.

Abu’s older brother Amara Sama competed for Iowa State from 2009-11 in the track and field program.

Sama garnered 11 offers before committing to Iowa State on June 25.

Carson Rhodes

Just down the road from Jack Trice Stadium, Carson Rhodes will complete his high school career starting in the fall.

Hailing from Nevada, Iowa, Rhodes stands out at 6-feet, 7-inches tall. His size makes him valuable in the run game as a blocker and pass catcher.

Rhodes plays tight end and fits beautifully into an Iowa State offensive scheme that allowed tight ends like Charlie Kolar to be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and Chase Allen to be signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears.

Rhodes earned 11 receptions for 121 yards while Nevada reached the state quarterfinals, ultimately losing the eventual state champions. Rhodes received five offers and committed to Iowa State in February 2022. He rounds out the list of 2023 recruits from the state of Iowa.