Montgomery and Daley act as quiet assassins of talented ISU wide-receiving group


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver D’Vario Montgomery runs the ball against West Virginia on Nov. 29 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones fell to the Mountaineers 37-24. Montgomery had 71 yards. 

Ryan Young

At the 2015 football media day press conference, ISU coach Paul Rhoads said that he wasn’t quite ready to buy into the hype surrounding his wide receivers.

But after completing fall camp and the first weeks of practice, it might be time for him to reconsider.

“We are going to throw the ball a lot,” said quarterback Sam Richardson at the team’s media day. “We are going to spread it out, and give those guys the ball as much as we can, so it’s just about making the plays that are out in front of me and seeing those guys go to work. It’ll be fun and easy on me.”

Redshirt senior Quenton Bundrage, who led the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdown catches in 2013, is back and at full strength after suffering a season-ending knee injury last season. In fact, many on the coaching staff and on the team say that Bundrage has stepped into more of a leadership role than he has in the past, and they can already tell the difference.

But it’s not just Bundrage that’s inflating the reputation of this wide-receiver group. Freshman Allen Lazard quickly made a name for himself last season, finishing second on the team in both receptions and receiving yards.

But with two big name guys leading the way, it can be easy to forget the other members of this wide-receiver corps.

Redshirt junior D’Vario Montgomery said it can be more challenging to stand out with so many talented receivers on the team, but they have been working much better as a group because of it.

“In this receiving corps that we have it’s about what can you bring to the table,” Montgomery said. “All you really have to do is make plays … [I’m] just trying to do what I do best. Other guys may bring speed, other guys may bring quickness and other guys may bring the ability to catch the ball through anything.

“In our receiving-core room, there are a lot of threats.”

Montgomery has already found success as a wideout, leading the team with 605 receiving yards last season. But at the end of last year, he simply wasn’t satisfied.

Through the spring and summer, Montgomery would run twice a day with his bulldog, King, in addition to whatever team workouts were taking place. By the end, Montgomery had shed 30 pounds, and he can already feel the difference.

“It’s helping out a lot,” Montgomery said. “I’m starting to see more things that I can do that I wasn’t able to do last year. It’s just helped me out a lot.”

What really motivated him, though, was the threat of a position change. Montgomery said that there was talk of switching him to a tight end, something he was not okay with.

“Everybody wanted me to fill E.J. [Bibb’s] spot,” Montgomery said. “My thing was I didn’t want any part in that. I decided to lose weight for speed issues and just because of the fact that I knew what I wanted to play.”

But with all of the attention that Bundrage and Lazard get, Mangino said at times Montgomery’s substantial contributions can go unnoticed. Through the fall camp, however, Mangino said Montgomery is performing much better than he has in the past.

“He [goes unnoticed] at times, but it’s his own fault because he needs to be more consistent,” Mangino said. “He’s been more consistent this training camp and [with] preparation than he’s been anytime I’ve been here.”

Mangino has had his eye on another wide receiver this fall as well. He said that Dondre Daley, a redshirt junior out of Tarpon Springs, Fla., will get lots of playing time this Saturday and throughout the season.

“He’s catching the ball play after play,” Mangino said. “He’s consistently running good routes, he’s blocking in the perimeter. He can be counted on. He’s not bent over trying to catch his breath on a hot summer day, he’s out there getting his reps. Consistency, that’s what is separating him now.”

Daley, who is currently listed as Lazard’s backup on the depth chart, is also fresh off an injury. Daley suffered a torn rotator cuff this spring, putting him out of commission for about six months.

And after hearing Mangino’s comments about his much-improved play, Daley said it just adds to his confidence.

“[Mangino] really made me feel more confident,” Daley said. “It just put a smile on my face.”

Montgomery said he has noticed Daley’s improvements this fall too.

“Dondre’s made a lot of great plays this camp and even this week working towards practice,” Montgomery said. “He’s one of those guys that, he makes a lot of plays. He’s like the quiet assassin.”

So whether it’s Bundrage, Lazard or Montgomery making the plays against Northern Iowa this weekend — or it’s Daley and a handful of others at Iowa State’s deepest position — the Cyclones have the requisite qualities to air the ball out in the passing game.

And that’s exactly what they’re planning to do.