2011 Spring Football Outlook: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Editor's note: This is the third of an eight-part series taking a quick
look at the Iowa State football team position by position heading into spring
practice. A review of the wide receiver position is below. Click the "play" link
in the photo above to see an interview with head coach Paul Rhoads. Links to previews position breakdowns can be found at the bottom of the page.
Pre-Spring Wide Receiver/Tight End Depth Chart
7 *Darius Reynolds, 6-2, 206, Sr.#
12 *Donnie Jennert, 6-7, 216, So.#
15 Chris Young, 5-11, 188, Jr.#
19 **Josh Lenz, 6-0, 196, Jr.
1 Jarvis West, 5-7, 161, Fr.#
9 Keith Blanton, Jr., 6-0, 201, So.#
6 ***Darius Darks, 6-1, 193, Sr.
18 Albert Gary, 5-10, 194, So.#
3 Aaron Horne, 5-9, 167, Jr.
86 *Kurt Hammerschmidt, 6-6, 260, Jr.#
82 Reid Branderhorst, 6-4, 244, Sr.#
89 Pierce Richardson, 6-4, 227, Fr.#
Iowa State returns a trio of wide receivers with extensive experience. Darius Reynolds missed part of his first Cyclone season with a leg injury but made 25 catches for 283 yards and two touchdowns last season. Reynolds is a former quarterback with a full-field sense of the game. He is expected to be a major target this season. Sophomore letterman Donnie Jennert and junior college transfer Chris Young will get a long look from the Iowa State coaching staff this spring.
Josh Lenz has shown that he could be a go-to guy this season. His acrobatic leap and catch for a touchdown in the win at Texas will always be a Cyclone memory. The junior has been a sure hand as a punt returner. Lenz will be a key target in 2011 after making 14 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns last season. Jarvis West turned heads in practice last season. He demonstrated the break-a-way speed so needed to test Big 12 secondaries. Keith Blanton will also draw attention this spring in a bid for playing time.
Like Reynolds, Darius Darks is a former quarterback. Despite injuries, the senior has made 106 career receptions, just eight short of moving into the all-time Cyclone top 10. Darks set a school freshman record with 49 receptions in 2008. Albert Gary saw limited action last season and will look to make a mark this spring. Aaron Horne is the wild card. The junior came recommended by his juco quarterback, fellow Cyclone recruit Steele Jantz. Horne was Jantz’s favorite target at City College of San Francisco. The junior made 51 catches for 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns to earn California junior college All-American honors.
The biggest shoes to fill are at tight end where Collin Franklin has moved on after making 54 catches for 530 yards and three touchdowns as one of the nation’s best at his position in 2010. Kurt Hammerschmidt demonstrated his potential last season, making five catches for 36 yards as Franklin’s backup. Reid Branderhorst, formerly a Division III basketball player at Simpson (Iowa) College will have an opportunity to show his wares. Redshirt freshman Pierce Richardson was a member of Rhoads’ first recruiting class who will also work to stand out this spring.
Rhoads on Receivers:
“What has to take place with the wide receiver position is we have to start becoming more productive from a big play standpoint. We are very sound as a football team. If we run a play and it’s designed to block for five yards it’s generally going to gain five yards. In two years we haven’t designed a play that’s going to be blocked for seven yards in a game and gained 70 yards. We have to get more of that out of our wide receivers and our football team as a whole. I think we have the chance to do it with new players that our fans haven’t seen yet and with veteran players who have continued to grow and develop.
“Josh Lenz already is a junior. Physically he’s a much different looking young man than he has been in the past. He has thickened up putting on about 10 pounds. Because he’s stronger he’s going to be better with the ball in his hands. I also think that he will be able to step out of the shadows of guys like (former ISU receivers) Marquis (Hamilton) and Jake Williams. He looks upon himself as the guy that is now the leader.
“Darius Darks is always going to be a solid player for us and is a proven receiver. Darius Reynolds is a player that I expect to have the breakout year. When he was here going through camp in 2009 there was no question that he was our biggest threat at the wide receiver position. He then broke his leg. I don’t know if he ever truly got healthy and got his speed back until now. He certainly looks good now in our off-season program. Our football team needs big things from Darius Reynolds in 2011. Jarvis West comes out of a red-shirt year. He would have played last year as a true freshman had he not badly hurt his hamstring late in fall camp. He’s a guy that’s got a chance to make three or four guys miss on one play.
“Aaron Horne comes into our program from junior college status. His elusiveness adds that game-breaking ability that can only help us. Donnie Jennert, Keith Blanton and a couple of other guys have grown up and been through two seasons now. Going into spring practice they should start to make an impact on our football team. Chris Young is also a guy that comes off a red-shirt as a junior college transfer a year ago. He’s got great speed. We need to be able to take advantage of that speed. Albert Gary enters his second season with our program. He’s got great hands and we will be able to put him a position to make plays as well.”
Other position breakdowns
- Running backs: March 11
- Quarterbacks: March 10