AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State junior running back David Montgomery has a big decision to make after the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28
If Montgomery decides to jump to the NFL — and few in Ames would blame him for doing so — the Cyclones just signed two backs who could serve as his replacements as early as next season.
Iowa State announced its latest recruiting class Wednesday, a group headlined by backs Jirehl Brock and Breece Hall. Both were four-star recruits whose decisions to sign with the Cyclones is further evidence of the program's rise under coach Matt Campbell.
The 25th-ranked Cyclones (8-4), who've never won 10 games, will go for their first nine-win season since 2000 against 12th-ranked Washington State (10-2) in San Antonio.
I told them "two things. I said, number one, if David comes back, you're going to get to be an understudy to one of the best tailbacks in the country," Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said of his pitch to Brock and Hall. "If not, then certainly you've got an opportunity to come in here and at least an opportunity to compete with some really good players.
Brock, a 5-foot-11, 205-pounder from Quincy, Illinois, was the top-ranked player in his state after rushing for 33 touchdowns as a senior. Brock held offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Missouri and Illinois among others, but he chose to essentially stay home because only the Mississippi River separates his hometown from Iowa.
"He's really athletic. You watch Jirehl play and he's passionate about football," Campbell said. "He's a guy that, when he walks into the room, you're instantly drawn to him."
Hall, who counted Michigan, Nebraska and Tennessee among his suitors, was considered by some to be the best prospect Kansas produced this fall. He ran for 2,127 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior at Northwest High in Wichita.
Campbell also mentioned another recruit, 5-foot-9 scat back Leonard Glass from Fresno, California, as someone who might be ready to help the Cyclones sooner than later.
"We feel really comfortable with our running back room now, and to add three players like that, I don't know that you can be any more excited as a coach," Campbell said.
Montgomery rushed for 1,092 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season. He did so behind a line that, while continuing to improve, isn't quite where it needs to be for Iowa State to take the next step as a program.
The Cyclones signed four linemen, including 6-foot-6 tackle prospect Jake Remsburg from nearby powerhouse West Des Moines Valley High.
"All four of those guys are guys that are maybe as close to being ready-made as we've been able to recruit," Campbell said.
Though recruiting rankings are hardly scientific, it's notable that this might be the best class Iowa State has ever signed after posting back-to-back winning seasons under Campbell, now in his fourth season.
The Cyclones also didn't sign any junior college players for the first time in recent memory, a sign that Campbell feels as though there aren't any glaring roster holes in need of an instant fix.