In today's mailbag, Iowa State fans are ready to take on the world, Jayhawks wonder if there's any hope after March Madness and K-Staters are sick of their recruiting classes being ranked so low.
To the 'bag:
Tommy Mangino in Ames, Iowa, writes: I just got into Ames with a pretty awesome coaching staff here (including my father) and I get to take over the ISU receivers. Big-time receivers and Iowa State aren't historically synonymous, but I'm liking this group. Quenton Bundrage is a solid No. 1 and I have one of the top receivers in the country coming in as a freshman in Allen Lazard. On top of that, transfer D'Vario Montgomery is eligible to play this season. Can I develop this group into one of the best in the Big 12?
Jake Trotter: Don’t forget about slot man Jarvis West or tight end E.J. Bibbs, either. I really like the potential of this group, too, especially if a long-term answer at quarterback emerges. But among the best in the Big 12? At this moment, I would still take the receiving corps of Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Texas over Iowa State’s. But there’s no doubt, this has the chance to be one of the better WR groups in the Big 12 and the best since Paul Rhoads has been the coach in Ames.
Kelly in Oregon writes: With the receivers, an improved offensive line and the juco help on defense, is Iowa State a sleeper team coming into 2014?
Trotter: Iowa State is not a sleeper to contend for a Big 12 title. But the Cyclones, given the offensive composition and Paul Rhoads’ defensive track record, are definitely capable of getting back to bowl eligibility. And back to being one tough out in Ames.
Jack Suenram in Salt Lake City writes: Rating K-State’s recruiting class below Kansas? Do we ever give these guys credit?
Trotter: Not nearly enough. K-State’s recruiting efforts often get overlooked by the analysts because the 'Cats go to the juco well so much, this year included. But there’s a lot to like about this K-State class and its impact for 2014. Potentially there are at least a half-dozen instant starters in this class, and that’s not even including Blue Springs, Mo., freshman running back Dalvin Warmack, who could be a factor in replacing John Hubert. For a team on the cusp of possibly contending for the Big 12 title next season, that level of immediate impact from one class could loom large. Even if that class wasn’t highly ranked.
Stanley Metz Jr. in Princeton, W.Va., writes: A pair of sports writers in a video about "signing day winners/losers" rated the entire Big 12 as a loser. I thought [the league] did good but not great as a whole. I also thought my ‘Eers did well at filling their "needs." What's your thoughts?
Trotter: I wouldn’t call the Big 12 a loser. Yes, the league failed to deliver an elite, top-10 class. And yes, it had trouble holding on to some of the elite prospects in its home states. But there’s a lot to like in every single class, from Oklahoma to Kansas. That’s why no Big 12 class finished ranked outside the top 60 nationally. I think West Virginia had a very strong class, reeling in five ESPN 300 players, including running back Donte Thomas-Williams over Florida on signing day. The key in this class, though, will be the quarterbacks. If the Mountaineers hit on either Skyler Howard or William Crest, we’ll look back on this being a tremendous West Virginia class that also filled a major need.
Nealyo in Olathe, Kan., writes: Is there any hope for the Jayhawks football team in 2014?
Trotter: Depends what you’re hoping for. If you’re hoping for a bowl game, then you might as well hope for world peace, too. But if you’re just hoping for mere improvement, there’s reason for optimism. Kansas brings back 16 starters, which, according to Phil Steele, is tied for 13th-most in the country. Losing running back James Sims hurts. But if QB Montell Cozart continues to develop, the Jayhawks have a chance to take a step forward in 2014.
Trotter: Slow down. Better yet, slam the brakes. Like Winston, Thomas is going to play baseball, too. Unlike Winston, Thomas has no Heisman sitting on his mantel. Not only that, he's is also looking at being Trevor Knight’s backup the next couple years. Thomas, a former four-star recruit, is a nice prospect. But can we let him at least play a down before we compare him to the best QB in college football?