Trio of wide receivers provide explosiveness to ISU offense


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver D’Vario Montgomery catches his first career touchdown pass for 59 yards on Nov. 1, the longest play from scrimmage for the Cyclones this season. The Cyclones fell to the No. 19 Sooners with a final score of 59-14.

Max Dible

As far as the ISU offense is concerned, good things come in groups of three.

Perhaps the greatest strength of last year’s ISU football team was its wide receiving corps, despite losing Quenton Bundrage — the most experienced member of the unit — to injury on the fourth snap of the season.

Stepping up to fill his role was ISU legacy, freshman Allen Lazard and redshirt sophomore D’Vario Montgomery. Lazard racked up 593 yards on 45 catches and scored three touchdowns as a newcomer to the college game. Montgomery snagged 44 balls and led the team in receiving yards with 605, adding two touchdowns of his own.

Now, as Bundrage returns to the starting lineup on a newly repaired ACL, the group will be arguably as explosive as any ISU coach Paul Rhoads has had at his disposal during his seven years at the helm of ISU football. Montgomery could not be more excited by the prospect of the terrific trio — comprised of himself, Lazard and Bundrage — reeking havoc across the Big 12.

“It brings a smile to my face every time I think about it. I just think of [how] good of a trio we could be as far as being on the field at the same time. That’s a deadly weapon,” Montgomery said. “I can’t see any other place being more explosive on our field other than the receiving corps.”

Part of the evolution of the trio of wide receivers has been a maturity that ISU wide receiver coach Tommy Mangino said he witnessed throughout the course of last season, as well as in the months since it came to a close.

“I’ve seen guys that want to get better and know that coming off the season we did, they want to improve,” Mangino said. “[We] had a lot of leadership come about in this group, which [I’m] very pleased about.”

Mangino singled out Lazard as coming the furthest in that regard, adding an aspect of leadership to his game along with the addition of the confidence that arose after being thrown into the fire immediately and unexpectedly during his first season as a Cyclone.

“He thought he was going to get 20 snaps a game and be a role player probably,” Mangino said of Lazard. “He had no idea that four snaps into the first season that he would be the guy, and so I thought he embraced it.”

While Lazard’s second season in the cardinal and gold will be about what he’s gained in experience, confidence and leadership, Montgomery’s upcoming year is likely to be more about what he’s lost.

Rhoads said that Montgomery played last season a little “overweight” for his position, but that is something that Montgomery has focused on remedying for the 2015 campaign. Montgomery weighed roughly 240 pounds for most of last year, but has cut down to 220, and said the change should be beneficial in a number of ways.

“It could help both ways — speed and also it could help just getting around people,” Montgomery said. “Last year, I kind of struggled with some of my abilities, but it was due to weight. Also, [losing weight] might help me stay injury free.”

Rhoads echoed Montgomery’s sentiments about the correlation between durability and a drop in weight, while referencing an injury that has kept the receiver out of practices since the second week of spring.

Montgomery had an exploratory surgery on his left knee after it was causing him problems during drills. Doctors found and removed a piece of bone from the knee, and Montgomery will take it slow for the rest of the practices throughout the semester.

Lazard said that when everything and everyone comes together in the fall, the group will be more confident, more comfortable in the newly installed Mangino offensive system and hungry to improve upon the foundation it constructed throughout last season.

“I think it’s good to reflect on the positive things that you do,” Lazard said. “But I think it’s also very important to focus on your weaknesses [to improve] … I think our whole group is very explosive and the sky is the limit.”