Bundrage, receivers look to improve “little things” heading into fall camp


Jenna Reeves/Iowa State Daily

Wide receiver Quenton Bundrage poses at football media day in front of the new south end zone at Jack Trice Stadium on Thursday.

Ryan Young

After nearly two full years away from the game, the time has finally come for Quenton Bundrage.

The redshirt senior, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last year’s season opener, has finished his rehab and is at full strength.

And as the 2015 season officially kicked off Thursday at the team’s annual media day, Bundrage can already feel the excitement.

“Being out here in with my jersey and my pants on is getting me even more excited to play,” Bundrage said. “It’s been almost two years since I’ve been playing, since 2013. I can’t wait to get out there and show the fans that I’m back.”

Bundrage finished the 2013 season with 48 catches, 676 receiving yards and nine touchdowns — the most on the team. While the injury sidelined Bundrage for all but a handful of plays last season, the process, many say, has turned him into a much better overall player.

“[Bundrage] took his role, he was very humble about it,” said wide receiver D’Vario Montgomery. “He didn’t really get down on himself. Even him coming back and taking on his rehab as tough as he can, he did a great job getting back and he’s ready to go.

“I honestly can say that he’s one of those guys that I can’t wait to play with him. Being on the same side or even just on the same field as him, it’s truly a blessing to play with guys like this.”

Bundrage isn’t the lone standout at wide receiver, though. Instead, he rounds out a large group of talented receivers. Along with Montgomery, sophomore Allen Lazard and redshirt junior Dondre Daley all bring experience to the position, something that the position lacked last season.

Head coach Paul Rhoads has been happy with the wide receivers so far, but said he isn’t quick to give them as much hype as they have been getting. When looking back to past seasons, while there have been some good things, it’s been the number of dropped passes that stick in his head the longest.

“The 2013 season was filled with a lot of big plays, explosive plays and touchdowns, but there were also a lot of drops that I probably remember. Probably a lot more than you do,” Rhoads said. “We have to catch it consistently and then we’ve got to be productive with the ball in our hands. The quarterback to them is a part of it, but in a large part that’s their duty and their responsibility.”

While Rhoads might not attribute a majority of the wide receivers’ success to the quarterback, it definitely plays a part.

With redshirt senior quarterback Sam Richardson, who broke the school record with 254 completions last season, back in control, Montgomery said he feels even more comfortable on the field.

“It helps a lot coming from him,” Montgomery said. “He’s one of those role model guys on the team that we all look up to and he does his best every time he’s out there. Coming from him, just receiving a catch or pass, it’s a big thing for me.”

Richardson said he too realizes how talented his receivers are, and that’s something he said he can’t wait to take advantage of.

“It’s definitely an opportunity, that’s the only way that I look at it,” Richardson said. “Were going to throw the ball a lot and spread it out and get those guys the ball as much as we can. It’s definitely just making the plays that are in front of me and seeing those guys go to work. It’ll be fun.”

With fall camp just getting started, the receivers will continue to work with Richardson to get more and more comfortable out on the field. It’s Richardson’s leadership that will make the biggest difference come game day.

“[Richardson] expects you to be where you’re supposed to be and he expects you to give him your all,” Montgomery said. “I can fully understand and all of us can say that we’ve fully bought in to this program and I feel like everything that we have in the receiving core is going to take us that much higher on the offense.”