Iowa State Cyclones

Hakeem Butler, David Montgomery poised to end Iowa State's NFL Draft drought

Wide receiver, running back would be first Cyclones picked since 2014

Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler pulls in a reception he would run in for a touchdown during at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (Matthew Putney/Freelance)
Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler pulls in a reception he would run in for a touchdown during at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (Matthew Putney/Freelance)

AMES — Iowa State football fans know the drill by now. Every story, article or podcast about Iowa State players and the NFL Draft has to mention Iowa State’s drought.

The Cyclones haven’t had a player selected in the NFL Draft since 2014, when Jeremiah George was picked in the fifth round by the New York Jets.

Receiver Allen Lazard was supposed to be the one to end that drought, but the current Packers receiver went undrafted last year.

Receiver Hakeem Butler and running back David Montgomery are the next Cyclones that are expected to break the drought.

Butler is projected anywhere from a late first-round pick to a second-round pick. He could be a third-round pick if things break the wrong way for the 6-foot-6 receiver. If he is drafted in the first round, he would break Iowa State’s other NFL Draft drought. The Cyclones haven’t had a player taken in the first round since 1973, when George Amundson was picked by the Houston Oilers.

Montgomery is projected as the second or third best running back in the draft class, but since the devaluation of running backs by the NFL, Montgomery is projected as a second or third-round pick.

No matter what happens Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the NFL Draft, it seems more than likely that Iowa State will have its draft curse lifted.

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“Is it great for us? Yeah, it’s great that Iowa State becomes a name,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “But more importantly, when you know these young men and you know what they’ve done to get where they’re at, it’s really rewarding to watch them chase their goals and dreams.”

Butler grew up in Baltimore, Md., but when his mom died of breast cancer he moved to Texas to live with his aunt, uncle and cousins. His cousins are Andrew and Aaron Harrison, twins who starred at Kentucky in basketball in the 2014-15 season.

Butler didn’t start playing organized football until he moved to Texas. He was a no-star recruit with no picture next to his name on recruiting sites. That is until Iowa State offered him. Then he became a 2-star recruit with no picture next to his name.

He was ranked as the 271st receiving prospect coming out of high school. Now, some experts have him as the best receiving prospect in the draft.

“Hakeem Butler, to watch his growth from year one to sitting here last year and saying, ‘He’s the most talented receiver we have in our program and I’ve ever coached,’” Campbell said. “To watch him continue to come into his own, it was really fun to watch. Now, he’s put him and his family on an amazing stage to have great success.

“And the fact we get to reap any sort of positive benefit from Hakeem developing in our program is exciting.”

Montgomery, like Butler, didn’t have an easy upbringing.

He was surrounded by drugs and gun violence in Cincinnati.

He didn’t give in and used it as motivation.

He became an eagle scout and his high school team’s quarterback. A 3-star prospect, Montgomery turned himself into one of the best running backs in the draft.

“David Montgomery, I don’t know if this program can say enough about what he did to give back to this program with his work ethic and what he did and put himself in a position to change his family’s lives forever,” Campbell said.

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“Both of those guys were among the best at their position groups in the country and now they’re getting the result of that.”

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