Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football recruiting: Nearly half of 2020 early signees are enrolling early

Here's what Matt Campbell said about the Cyclones' early signees

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell. (Matthew Putney/Freelance)
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell. (Matthew Putney/Freelance)

AMES — College football recruits enrolling early has become somewhat of a trend in recent years.

It’s not any different at Iowa State. Of the 20 players that signed on Wednesday, nine of them will be enrolling in classes at Iowa State in January — including some in key positions, like quarterback Aiden Bouman and defensive tackle Latrell Bankston.

“That’s changed a lot,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “I’m not a guy that’s for it or against it, to be honest with you.”

On one hand, what coach doesn’t like to begin molding players as early as possible? On the other hand, Campbell has said multiple times he loves multi-sport athletes who love to compete and decide — for example — to play basketball, wrestle or run track.

Iowa State receiver Darien Porter ran track for Bettendorf last year and Campbell said Wednesday no one in the 2019 class has developed as much as Porter has. In this class, quarterback Hunter Dekkers will likely play baseball for West Sioux in the summer before he joins Iowa State.

“We’ve had guys on both ends of the spectrum,” Campbell said. “Brock (Purdy) came in, in June and was able to have great success here. Other guys like Breece (Hall) have come in early and have certainly benefited from that. Everybody is a little bit different.

“It’s changed because the young men feel a push to get on a college campus sooner but I also love the guys that want to play basketball, baseball or run track. We’re excited to get some of those guys early.”

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Campbell felt his team needed two quarterbacks in this class to help bolster the numbers in the room. Last year’s quarterback commit Easton Dean is now a tight end and John Kolar graduates, leaving just Purdy and Re-al Mitchell as the two scholarship QBs.

Dekkers is the fifth-best recruit in Iowa State history according to 247Sports. He’s 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds and has a 247Sports Composite score of 90. He’s a 4-star recruit, ranked as the seventh best dual-threat quarterback in the nation by 247Sports.

Bouman is the son of former NFL quarterback Todd Bouman and is ranked as the 22nd best pro-style quarterback and has a composite score of 87.

“I don’t know if you could be more blessed to have two guys like this come into your football program in terms of the quality of people, their character, winning, leadership,” Campbell said. “Those guys were no doubt about it for us. Aiden is a guy we’ve really believed in since we got to watch him throw as a junior. Then he came to camp and we watched him lead and empower people. He’s a special young man.”

Dekkers was also at Iowa State’s summer camps and he forced ISU to offer him a scholarship with his play.

“Hunter is a guy that came to our camp as a junior and grew 2 inches from his junior year to his senior year,” Campbell said. “I don’t know if anybody’s had as good of a football camp as Hunter Dekkers did. He came to camp and demanded a scholarship. His leadership, his poise, his confidence — the success he’s had in every aspect of his life. He’s an elite competitor.

“All of those things we really loved about him and then he came here and it was like, ‘Man, how could you not offer this guy a scholarship? He can compete to be the starting quarterback in your program.’”

It’s nothing new for Iowa State to take two players at the same position in a recruiting class where, traditionally, you only play one player at a time.

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Two years ago the staff took Mitchell and Purdy at the quarterback position and last year they signed Breece Hall and Jirehl Brock at running back.

“Both guys have elite intangibles and both guys have a great friendship,” Campbell said. “It says a lot about our program that both young men trust us enough to both come here and not only want to compete but want to make our program better. I’m really excited about that and I think both guys are pillars of this class.”

While one of those two is likely the future, Iowa State also got players that can help immediately and both are enrolling early.

The first is receiver Xavier Hutchinson, who’s a 6-foot-3 junior college signee who stayed committed to Iowa State even as offers from Syracuse, Oklahoma and Nebraska flowed in.

“I’ll be really honest with you, I don’t know if there’s a better wide receiver in the country right now that’s coming into a college football program than what Xavier is,” Campbell said. “If you go watch the video tape of his sophomore year at Blinn, it’s as good as any video tape I’ve ever seen of a wide receiver. I give him and his family a lot of credit for staying loyal to us.”

Pretty high praise, no?

Well, Campbell continued to heap it on.

“He’s got the size of a Hakeem Butler and an Allen Lazard but he has the speed and athleticism of some of our really talented skill players. He’s dynamic and he looks like how a No. 1 receiver looks. We’re really anxious to get him here to see where and how he fits into our wide receiver group.”

Defensive tackle is another position where one player is enrolling in January and another is waiting for the summer and both are highly talented.

The first is Junior College Defensive Player of the Year Latrell Bankston, who’s enrolling early.

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“Latrell is a guy that maximizes his potential,” Campbell said. “He’s had unbelievable success during his time in junior college. He’s had to overcome adversity early on — he lost his mother midway through his high school career. He’s a guy that’s persevered through it and a guy that has a strong purpose with what he does. He’ll do a phenomenal job for our football program.”

The other is J.R. Singleton, the Illinois defensive player of the year.

“J.R. Singleton, I don’t know if there’s a better football player in this entire class,” Campbell said. “He led his team to the Illinois state championship, he was the defensive player of the year in Illinois as a defensive tackle. He’s as special as anybody in this class. There will be great competition at defensive tackle and it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves. A lot of these guys do things that are completely different than what our guys do now, yet they have some of the same characteristics and traits that make elite nose guards. That battle will start in the spring, then when J.R. gets here, then we’ll really put it together as we get into fall camp.”

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