116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State’s receiving dynamic has ebbed and flowed under head coach Matt Campbell.
The Cyclones didn’t have a single scholarship tight end on the roster when he arrived in Ames ahead of the 2016 season.
When the Cyclones made the 2017 Liberty Bowl in Campbell’s second year as head coach, receivers accounted for 82 percent of the receptions and 88 percent of the receiving yards, led by Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler.
Chase Allen was the only tight end with a reception that season. He had four for 39 yards. Fullback Sam Seonbuchner had one catch for 5 yards.
Last season, two of the top four leading receivers were tight ends and all three were in the top six.
The three tight ends actually outpaced the top three receivers in yards per reception — 12.37 yards per catch for tight ends compared to 12.15 for the top three receivers. They also had more touchdowns. The tight ends combined for nine touchdowns and the top three receivers had six.
Getting production from your tight ends is great, but running backs and receivers coach Nate Scheelhaase wants his receivers to step up, too.
Xavier Hutchinson led all players with 65 receptions for 771 yards. The second-most productive returning receiver is Sean Shaw, who had 21 catches for 212 yards.
The Cyclones need another receiver to step up and help Hutchinson.
Shaw, a junior, is capable of taking that step, but Tarique Milton already has proven to be a legitimate No. 2 threat. The problem is he dealt with injuries all last season.
As a sophomore in 2019, Milton had 35 receptions for 722 yards. If he’s able to stay healthy, he’ll provide a downfield threat that should open things up for Breece Hall in the run game as well as the tight ends in the passing game.
“Tarique has been an explosive player here who has made a ton of plays down the field,” Scheelhaase said. “He can go and threaten people with his speed and with the ball in his hands. Getting him back and healthy will be huge for our offense.
“He’s a guy that makes defensive backs back up and any time you have those guys on the field, it’s going to make things a lot easier for the other guys on the offense, too.”
Landen Akers, Iowa State’s third leading receiver last season, was the only departure. Shaw will have an opportunity to be the guy at the “Z” receiver spot opposite Hutchinson, who is the “X.” Milton will be in the slot as the “M.”
One young player the coaches love is Daniel Jackson, who was a true freshman last season. He actually got quite a bit of playing time before he suffered a season-ending injury. He played in Iowa State’s first four games and had five receptions for 28 yards.
Scheelhaase is excited to get him back, too.
“With him, you have a big, physical receiver that can play on the outside or the inside,” Scheelhaase said of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Jackson. “He has the ability to move around and that’s what we’ve been doing with him this spring, seeing where he fits best in our offense. We really like the growth that Daniel has had.”