CEDAR RAPIDS - Earlier this season, a reporter asked Iowa City West boys' tennis coach Mitch Gross about the #x201c;triple crown#x201d; of prep tennis.
At the time, Gross dismissed the thought of winning a state championship in singles, dou ... »
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AMES — Size, skill and an instinctive nature are attributes college football players strive to achieve. Even just one of those can carry someone pretty far.
Allen Lazard happens to have all three, and it didn’t take long for his coaches to notice.
At 6-foot-5 and 223 pounds, the Iowa State junior wide receiver has been a big target ever since he stepped on campus two years ago. He was second on the team in receptions as a freshman and led the Cyclones in that category last year.
In this new offensive scheme that features running back Mike Warren, quarterback Joel Lanning — and sometimes double tight ends — Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell has a pretty good idea of how he’ll use Lazard.
“I think you’ll see him in any position other than the offensive line,” Campbell said. “Is that fair? And special teams as well.”
That response might have come across as somewhat tongue in cheek, but Lazard really can be used anywhere — and is expected to be a punt returner again. And the Urbandale native even took it a step further.
“I wouldn’t count me out of playing the O-line yet,” Lazard said. “So we’ll see.”
“He’s a guy that’s pretty dominant when you talk about playing on the outside and some of those balls down the sideline and giving a chance to really high point the ball and play through defenders,” said wide receivers coach Bryan Gasser. “That’s what he does really, really well and now we’ve just got to work on some of the little things.”
Lazard started 11 games a year ago — he sat out against Baylor with a rotator cuff injury — and amassed 56 catches, 808 yards and six touchdowns. That was 15 catches and 60 yards more than Iowa State’s second receiver, who played in all 12 games.
The individual stats aren’t at the front of Lazard’s mind, though. The only stat he thinks about is eight wins in three years. Lazard doesn’t necessarily feel like his time is running out, but he’s trying to bring everybody else along as best he can.
“When I need to speak up I do,” Lazard said. “Maybe I need to a little bit more now this season than I did in the past. Like I said I just try to go out there and lead by example and put my effort out there and let other guys see that and feed off it.”
Lazard has a supporting cast of wide receivers like Dondre Daley, Trever Ryen, Darius Lee-Campbell and tight ends Justin Chandler and Cliff Fernandez, but one more has gone somewhat under the radar.
Redshirt freshman Hakeem Butler possesses the size and skill that have helped make Lazard a threat in the Big 12, but still is working on that instinctive and consistency pieces.
Butler is a first cousin of former Kentucky basketball guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison and at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, has a lengthy build similar to that of Lazard.
“(I think the next step is) me realizing my size, I got big pretty quick,” Butler said. “I just want to use it to my advantage and with my game, I’m just trying to learn from Allen and see how he uses his body. Just use that as an example for myself.
“Allen is like a mentor to me and a big brother, I guess. Every rep and every time I do something, he comes over and he’s the first one to tell me what I did wrong and what I did right. I appreciate it greatly.”
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