Iowa State seeks height in defensive backs


February 1st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Born three months premature, Cliff Stokes usually was the smallest kid in his class as a youngster. Then he started growing and now he represents Iowa State’s new focus in recruiting defensive backs, a player with the height needed to take on the tall receivers the Cyclones face in the Big 12 Conference. The 6-foot, 180-pounder out of Trinity Valley Community College in Texas was among the 21 recruits who signed with Iowa State on Wednesday, a group that included five defensive backs. Four of the five defensive backs who signed are at least 6 feet tall, while the other is 5-10. Iowa State often has played cornerbacks who were 5-8 or 5-9. One of the starters last year, Jeremy Reeves, is 5-7.

Iowa State also signed five defensive linemen and place-kicker Cole Netten of Ankeny. Iowa State’s two kickers last season, Grant Mahoney and Zach Guyer were seniors, so the job appears to be Netten’s to lose. Netten went 11-for-14 on field goals last season, including a 47-yarder. One of the defensive backs who signed, Luke Knott of Lee’s Summit, Mo., is the brother of all-Big 12 linebacker Jake Knott, who’ll be a senior in the fall. Another, Damein Lawry of Dallas, played high school football for coach Elize Barnett, whose brother Duke is the father of ISU quarterback Jared Barnett.Rhoads said the 10-year, $20 million contract he signed in mid-December will help in recruiting because it shows stability in the program. He said he can be honest when parents asks if he’ll be at Iowa State until their son graduates. “I never as an assistant coach, a coordinator, a head coach looked them in the eye and told them with absolute certainty, yes,” Rhoads said. “Because chances are, it would be a lie. I think this long-term commitment by the university shows where we’re at in the direction we want to take this program.”

Iowa State’s class is generally ranked near the bottom of the Big 12, but Rhoads shrugged that off. “We’re trying to recruit the right guys that fit our philosophy and our program,” he said. “We’re not caught up in stars or golden apples or whatever they attach to a player.”