Iowa State to lean on young WRs

Iowa State is confident sophomore quarterback Sam Richardson has

a bright future – even though he has only started twice.

The Cyclones aren’t as sure yet about the receivers Richardson

will be throwing to this fall.

Iowa State will be forced to rely on a highly inexperienced

group of wideouts to improve an underwhelming passing game.

The Cyclones ranked ninth in the Big 12 last season with 205

yards passing a game and a completion rate of just 55.1 percent.

Though Richardson has earned the coaching staff’s trust in the

offseason, he’ll enter his first season as the full-time starter

without the top three pass catchers from a unit that often

struggled last season.

Iowa State opens Aug. 31 at home against Northern Iowa.

”You’ve got to be demanding. You’ve got to be understanding,”

wide receivers coach Todd Sturdy said. ”You’ve just got to keep

pushing them, but also you’ve got to understand the learning curve.

There’s going to be good days and bad days. There’s going to be ups

and downs. There’s going to be inconsistency at times.”

The receiver the Cyclones are counting on most for a breakout

season is sophomore Quenton Bundrage.

After being selected the team’s outstanding newcomer in 2012,

Bundrage is poised to become a big part of the offense.

The 6-foot-2 Bundrage caught 20 passes and had TD receptions

against Texas and West Virginia in his first season.

”He’s obviously got to be a guy that we lean on heavily.

Starting to see more leadership out of him on the field,” Sturdy

said.

Bundrage and Richardson clicked when they worked together with

the scout team. By the end of last season, it was evident that both

players were being set up to play major roles in Iowa State’s

future.

All indications are that Bundrage will be Richardson’s top

target to start 2013.

”We’re a young team, so I know that someone has to step up and

be a leader. If we don’t, it’s going to cause problems somewhere,”

Bundrage said.

Even though Jarvis West opened camp as a backup to unheralded

senior Justin Coleman, he and senior Albert Gary should provide

experience to a unit that desperately needs it.

The Cyclones are hoping they’ll prove to be more than just

that.

West was tied for third on the Cyclones with 31 catches last

season while sharing the kick returner role with Gary, who had 18

receptions a year ago.

Still, both find themselves competing with Coleman for starting

spots.

Coleman only transferred to Iowa State after his former school,

Nebraska-Omaha, dropped football. After redshirting in 2011 and

playing mostly special teams last season, Coleman has unexpectedly

emerged as a No. 1 receiver.

”All these different situations you get to in football, he

always seems to do the right thing,” Sturdy said of Coleman.

”He’s always where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be

there. Sometimes he gets there in different ways, but he gets

there, and then he catches the ball consistently. Smart guy, smart

player.”

The Cyclones have also given extensive looks to a number of

redshirt freshmen, with 6-foot-1 Dondre Daley leading the way as

camp winds to a close.

But it’ll be quite a while before anyone can tell whether Iowa

State’s inexperienced receivers can upgrade the program’s

struggling passing game.

”I’m basically sitting here saying Quenton Bundrage is the bell

cow and the leader of the whole room – and he’s a redshirt

sophomore. So that’s what it is,” Sturdy said.

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