When people talk about playmakers and Iowa State’s offense, they are often quick to bring up Allen Lazard, Mike Warren or sometimes even Joel Lanning. Some Cyclone fans these days might even throw Jacob Park or Dondre Daley in the mix.
What about Trever Ryen?
“[Trever’s] so quick and shifty and is such a playmaker that you have to account for him on the defense,” Lanning said on Monday. “We’ve got Mike and Allen and all those guys, but you can’t sleep on him.”
Ryen, the 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound Ida Grove native, enters Saturday’s contest with No. 13 Baylor (11 a.m. at Jack Trice Stadium) ranked second nationally (and the Big 12) in punt return yardage. He’s averaging 26 yards per, a mark that would shatter Allen Lazard’s school record set last season.
Not only that, but the redshirt junior continues to assume as role as one of the team’s best pass catchers. He’s second on the team with 13 receptions for 134 yards. Ryen caught his first touchdown of the season in last week’s 44-10 win over San Jose State.
The win over the Spartans could be argued as Ryen’s best game in an Iowa State uniform. He caught three passes for 31 yards plus the touchdown, but made his biggest mark on special teams where he returned three punts for 161 yards, including a 55-yard scamper that nearly turned into a touchdown right before halftime.
“I was a little bit surprised,” Ryen said about the return after Saturday’s game. “I thought they’d just try to punt it inside the 10 or not have a chance for me to return, but when he punted it, I was like, ‘Okay, here we go.’”
Finding ways to get the ball in Ryen’s hands has been a priority since he emerged as an explosive playmaker with an 81-yard return for a touchdown in last year’s season opening win over Northern Iowa. Paul Rhoads and his staff played the speedster at receiver, running back and returner. He excelled at them all, becoming one of the few players in college football to rush, receive and return for a touchdown in 2015.
“I think what we have to do with Trever is always try to put him in position to have the biggest impact,” head coach Matt Campbell said on Monday. “He’s a guy, and we also can’t play him too much because he’s doing such a good job on offense for us too. We’ve got to really do a great job judging where and what and how that looks for Trever, but I think getting the ball in his hands certainly continues to be a priority for us.”
Some might even argue Ryen hasn’t been utilized enough, including our publisher Chris Williams. After how he performed against San Jose State, I’d say that club might be growing.
Trever Ryen is the most underutilized Cyclone on this team. For an O w/ a bad o-line, he’s a guy you can use in short passing game.
— Chris Williams (@ChrisMWilliams) September 24, 2016
People might not be sleeping on Trever Ryen anymore.
“Not only on the offense, but if you saw what he did on special teams with those punts returns was incredible,” Lanning said. “Those are huge momentum swings for us and we need to carry those.”