AMES – Josh Lenz doesn’t have a whistle underneath his shoulder pads, but the way he is coaching up his fellow receivers he might need one.
The senior is doing everything he can to make sure his last season in Cardinal and Gold is a success. This fall, Lenz will he Iowa State’s go-to receiver, punt returner and yes, even coach on the field.
“I ask him questions all the time,” redshirt freshman Quenton Bundrage said at Iowa State’s media Day August 2. “The first day I got here, I was asking him questions. The type of person he is, he’ll help you out anytime. He is the type of person that you want to be a leader on the team.”
The Cyclones must replace Darius Reynolds and his 43 catches from last year, but with Lenz and a host of young receivers, the Cyclones are hopeful that won’t be a problem. In fact, with the depth at receiver, Bundrage is confident it will be a position of strength.
“We are young guys, and people don’t really know what we are capable of doing,” he said. “We will showcase our talent. People will see.”
Lenz the leader
Josh Lenz is a matchup nightmare for opponents. The Dubuque native lines up all over the field and finds openings.
Last season, Lenz snared 39 passes – second best on the squad – and scored two touchdowns. Those numbers will increase this season, especially with improved quarterback play.
“Josh is very, very smart football-wise,” Iowa State offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham said. “He can play inside, he can play outside receiver. He has been in a lot of football games going on four years now and he’s made a lot of big plays for us.
“The thing that is probably as good as anything with him is, he is very unselfish. He doesn’t care if he is playing inside or outside, he just wants to get on the field and help us be successful.”
As one of Iowa State’s main threats on offense, Lenz knows he’ll have opponent’s attention. That doesn’t faze him. When the Cyclones need that big first down, Lenz is hungry to be the player to make the play.
“This year, I really want to step up and be that guy,” Lenz said. “It’s going to be a lot of work, but I want to take that role on.”
Young receivers get chance to shine
Athletically, this might be the best group of receivers that Iowa State has ever suited up. How will that translate on the field?
Iowa State will start to find out Sept. 1 against Tulsa, but early indications are pointing in the Cyclones’ favor.
Take Bundrage for instance. The Palmetto, Fla., native spent last fall getting bigger, stronger and smarter as a redshirt. Now, Bundrage is listed as a starter.
“It’s tough for everyone who is used to playing every down, then coming into college and redshirting,” Bundrage said. “It was tough at first, but at the end of the day, it was the best decision for me. It really helped me out.”
At the other starting spot, sophomore Jarvis West has shown flashes of doing something special every time he touches the ball. Behind him, Albert Gary and Aaron Horne are more than capable of making plays when it counts.
It doesn’t stop there. The coaching staff is excited to see what freshman Tad Ecby, Ja’Quarius Daniels and Quan West can do. Converted quarterback Jerome Tiller should also see reps.
“Bundrage obviously had a good spring,” Messingham said. “We are expecting great things out of him in two-a-days to get prepared for Tulsa. In Quenton, Tad Ecby and Ja’Quarious Daniels, we have three guys who redshirted last year, and we feel like all three of them can bring a lot to the table.”
If any of the young guys have questions, they know exactly who to turn too.
“I definitely want to help out those young guys,” Lenz said. “This is my last time around, and I want to do whatever it takes to win.”