Breaking down the Iowa State football team: Wide Receivers

Former Iowa State wide receiver Allen Lazard catches a pass on Nov. 3, 2016 at Jack Trice Stadium. 

Aaron Marner

So far we’ve looked at the quarterbacks and running backs of the Iowa State football squad. Today, it’s time for the receivers.

Re-writing the record books

When Iowa State lines up for its first offensive series of the 2017 season, all eyes from the opposing defense will be fixated on No. 5 as he takes his position on the outside.

Allen Lazard, Iowa State’s star senior wide receiver, is a likely mid-round selection in next year’s NFL Draft. He was named second-team All-Big 12 as a sophomore and first-team All-Big 12 as a junior.

Lazard already ranks in the top three in school history for career receptions, career receiving yards and career receiving touchdowns. He is six receptions away from tying Todd Blythe’s school record of 176, and he’s less than 700 yards from Blythe’s school record for yards.

The glaring item missing from Lazard’s college trophy case is a bowl trophy. If Iowa State adds one of those in 2017, Lazard will need to be one of the best receivers in the nation.

Deshaunte Jones and the slot receivers

Deshaunte Jones, a sophomore from Cincinnati, emerged as the Robin to Lazard’s Batman in 2016.

While Lazard led the receiving corps in every major statistical category, Jones made sure to follow closely behind.

Jones finished second behind Lazard in receptions, touchdowns and yards. All of his freshman receiving numbers ranked in the top five among freshmen receivers in Cyclone history.

A lot has been made about the height and length of Iowa State’s receivers— Lazard is 6-foot-5, Hakeem Butler and tight end Chase Allen are each listed at 6-foot-6 — but even at just 5-foot-10, Jones might be the toughest weapon for defenses to stop.

With Lazard often commanding safety help on the outside, Jones may see quite a bit of single-coverage across the middle.

And it’s not just Jones. Trever Ryen has made his name as a punt returner — he was named first-team All-Big 12 in that role in 2016 — but Ryen also made strides as a receiver last season. He more than doubled his number of receptions from 18 to 37 between 2015 and 2016, and caught a pair of touchdown passes.

With Ryen and Jones in the slot, the receivers have a nice mix of quickness and size to throw at defenses.

Hakeem Butler and untapped potential

When Hakeem Butler committed to Iowa State in February 2015, he was largely a mystery.

At 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, with plenty of athleticism, Butler was intriguing. On the other hand, his list of scholarship offers featured some less-than-stellar options. Iowa State was the only power five conference team to offer Butler.

Usually, talented high school players from Texas don’t slip through the cracks.

Butler may be the exception.

Cyclone fans got to see some of Butler’s athleticism during last year’s season opener. Butler grabbed a one-handed touchdown pass for his first career reception.

Overall, Butler caught just nine passes as a redshirt freshman in 2016 for a grand total of two touchdowns and 134 yards.

For Iowa State’s offense to take the next step, Butler will need to make strides as he enters his redshirt sophomore year. That would give Jacob Park another big target on third downs and in redzone situations.

Overall, the receiving corps should be one of the strongest units on the team in 2017. The Cyclones have plenty of weapons at receiver for quarterback Jacob Park to utilize.