In-state talent dominates Cy-Hawk matchup
AMES — The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry has often been headlined by players who grew up in the state. This year’s game might feature more in-state talent that any Cy-Hawk matchup in recent memory.
The Hawkeyes’ most recent depth chart featured 23 players from Iowa. Many of the Cyclones’ top players — including seniors Allen Lazard, Joel Lanning and Jake Campos — went to high school not far from Ames.
The sheer volume of local talent on both rosters has brought a unique flair to Saturday’s matchup at Iowa State which pits two 1-0 teams.
“They grew up watching this series. I think they know fully what it means, just the interest and what’s at stake for everybody involved. It’s a really significant thing,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Iowa’s remote location and, until recently, underwhelming facilities have long forced Ferentz and his staff to develop overlooked prospects.
The Hawkeyes will usually reserve more than a few spots in each recruiting class for undersized in-state projects. They redshirt as freshmen to build their bodies up under longtime assistant Chris Doyle, one of the nation’s highest-paid and most recognized strength coaches, and ease their way into the lineup when they’re ready.
Perhaps the best example yet is senior linebacker Josey Jewell, who grew up in Decorah. The Hawkeyes took a chance on Jewell, who didn’t have any other FBS offers coming out of high school, and last month he was named a preseason first-team All-American. He piled up 14 tackles in last week’s win over Wyoming.
“Just the attitude they play with and the effort, and then you talk with the coaches that work with them. Try to get a feel for their intangibles and how much they love the game, and then you’ve got to see some growth potential,” Ferentz said. “I think you just have to have an open mind and see things a little further down the road.”
The Cyclones have also developed their share of Iowa prospects that might not have been considered Power Five recruits, with senior wide receiver Trever Ryen leading the way in 2017.
But in many respects, this year’s senior class at Iowa State is a tribute to former coach Paul Rhoads’ commitment to keeping the best the state had to offer from leaving.
Campos, a tackle out of West Des Moines, was considered the state’s top recruit when he chose the Cyclones, and quarterback-turned-linebacker Lanning of Ankeny passed over Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa in favor of Iowa State.
But Lazard, a wide receiver from Urbandale, will likely be remembered among the best Iowans to play in the rivalry.
Lazard could have gone almost anywhere, including Iowa, but he committed to Rhoads and the Cyclones — and last week became the school’s leader in career receptions with 178.
“He’s had just tremendous sustained success. I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s equally about this team having success as (he is) himself. How about him being a great senior leader? He’s doing a great job leading this team, and keeping his composure with these young guys,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said.