The Cyclones open preseason practice on Monday, Aug. 4. To get you ready for the season, AllCyclones.com will be gauging the depth at every position on the roster. Next up: Running back.
Projected Starter: Aaron Wimberly, Sr., Iowa Western (JUCO); Snellville (GA)
Projected Backup: DeVondrick Nealy, Jr., Monticello (FL)
Other Players: Rob Standard, Jr., St. Louis (MO); Tyler Brown, rFr., Lakeland (FL); Martinez Syria, Fr., Humble (TX); Michael Warren, Fr., Lawton (OK).
The Leader: Aaron Wimberly
It's been nice to see Wimberly receive some preseason acclaim after being buried on a bad team in 2013. The senior's been named to the Doak Walker and Paul Hornung watch lists and several magazines have him among the top few running backs in the conference. Wimberly's got everything you want in a running back. He's stronger than he looks at 5-foot-9, 174 pounds, he's plenty quick, runs with aggression and lowers his shoulder, is a one-cut-and-go ballcarrier and is a threat in the passing game. Wimberly's talent merits a high volume of work, but injuries were troublesome in 2013, and it's not clear if he's durable enough to tote the rock 20 times a game. Wimberly shouldn't have to carry that load, a very talented group of backs ready to relieve him, and the Cyclones are expecting him to post a very high average per rushing attempt in his final season in Ames.
The Wildcard: Rob Standard
Having set the area rushing records at Chaminade High in St. Louis, Standard has paid his dues — and then some — while serving as scout team running back. He's a junior now, and it's time for the big show. The 5-foot-10, 213-pound Standard is expected to fill the Jeff Woody role of short-yardage rusher and occasional blocker out of two-back sets, but it'll be disappointing if he doesn't exceed Woody's level of play the past few seasons.
Rob Standard.Standard is a superior athlete and pass-catcher and should give Mark Mangino a nice weapon out of the backfield. If Standard's not up to snuff, Iowa State might have to use Martinez Syria as a true freshman.
The Future: Michael Warren
As the future of five-star Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon looks increasingly cloudy, it's worth noting Mixon took Warren's spot with the Sooners. Mixon, a California native, nearly went to UCLA. If he had, the Sooners would have offered Warren, a late qualifier, and the Cyclones would've been scrambling (remember, ISU offered Warren after Tommy Mister withdrew his commitment … also worth noting is the staff consensus was Warren was a better player than Mister, anyway). Warren needs a redshirt season to hone his game and add strength, but his highlight tape is incredible, and big things should be in store for Warren the next few seasons, with Martinez Syria serving as the change-of-pace thunder to Warren's lightning.
While the Iowa State fan base eagerly watched the recruitments of Mister and Warren play out in January, unbeknownst to many was the run Boise State was making at Syria. The Cyclones held on, thanks mostly to new hire Louis Ayeni. The 2014 haul was very good.
Add in 2015 Sachse (TX) commitment Devine Ozigbo and the future looks very bright. The Cyclones promised Ozigbo he'd be the only running back they take in the class. It wouldn't be surprising if they signed two players at the position in 2016.