Iowa State Juco Transfers Mature in Redshirt Year
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"There are not a lot of places in college football where a young man from a junior college can come into a BCS school and spend a year learning about football at this level while getting acclimated to his academic responsibilities," Rhoads said. "We have had great success doing this. This philosophy has created real opportunities for several young men in our football program since I've been here."
Iowa State receiver Chris Young is just the latest example of the benefits a redshirt season can play in the development of junior college transfers. Young redshirted during the 2010 season after transferring from Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College. Young caught 63 passes for 990 yards and seven touchdowns during his two-year stint at Trinity Valley.
Young's adjustment to NCAA FBS football at Iowa State was initially daunting. At Austin High School (Texas), Young played defense. But his junior college team needed a receiver, and he obliged. He came to Iowa State with a lot to learn.
"I was still new at the receiver position," Young said. "In junior college, I was playing off of skill. When I got here, I saw how things are really done. I was so raw in my skill set. I knew deep down that I really wasn't ready.
"Route running, reading defenses, and learning to catch the ball with my hands rather than with my body were just a few of the lessons I had to learn," Young said. "There was blocking, more detailed plays and audibles to understand. It was like a freshman year. As a redshirt and as a junior, I was learning a lot from (fellow Austin, Texas native) Darius Darks and Darius Reynolds (his Iowa State teammates)."
The redshirt year was also an enormous help to Iowa State tight end Collin Franklin, who went on to make 87 catches for 980 yards during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Tight end Ernst Brun redshirted last season before making his Cyclone debut Saturday against Tulsa. He caught a touchdown pass on his first career reception. Brun will be the first to tell you that redshirting last season was the best thing for him.
Young played a limited role in 2011, making six catches for 68 yards and a score against Texas. He began fall practice with a new confidence.
"I told myself that I wanted to have a much bigger role going into camp," Young said. "The first day that practice started, I was still second string. A couple of days into camp I moved up to starter and the position became mine to lose."
Young sees differences between last year's Pinstripe Bowl team and the 2012 Cyclones.
"We want to win and there is a sense of winning now," Young said. "The offense is better."
Young sees the improvement in Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz.
"Steele was relying more on his athletic ability last season," Young said. "This year he is a passer first and a runner second. He has really learned everything and you can sense his poise."
Young and his teammates are after a third bowl appearance in four years.
"Coach Rhoads has been so good for this program," Young said. "You can see the progress we have made and the way we go about our business now."
Young and his teammates square off at intrastate rival Iowa Saturday. The game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. CDT from Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.