AMES, Iowa — Matt Campbell took his first step toward winning over Iowa State fans Wednesday, bringing in a recruiting class that appears to be among the program's best in recent memory.
The Cyclones signed 36 players, including a handful of junior college newcomers who could push for starting jobs by August. Iowa State's class of 2016 was even rated among the top 50 nationally by some recruiting publications, a rarity for a school with an historic lack of success.
Experienced newcomers such as defensive backs D'Andre Payne and Thadd Daniels were augmented with the likes of incoming freshmen Sean Foster — the rare consensus four-star recruit to commit to Iowa State out of high school — and 6-foot-6 tight end Chase Allen.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: No.
Best in class: DB D'Andre Payne. He played as a freshman at Tennessee after turning down offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Clemson and others coming out of high school. Payne spent a year at Arizona Western focused on academics before landing at Iowa State, where he is expected to make an immediate impact.
Best of the rest: At 6-foot-8 and 285 pounds, Sean Foster has the pedigree to become Iowa State's future left tackle. Eyioma Uwazurike has potential as a defensive end, and quarterback Jacob Park is a former Georgia Bulldog who at the very least gives the Cyclones a backup to incumbent Joel Lanning.
Late addition: Twin defensive linemen Jaquan and Joshua Baily, both 6-foot-3 from Jacksonville, Florida. Iowa State always seems to be in need of line help, and getting two three-star recruits from Florida on signing day was considered a coup.
One that got away: John Raridon, a tackle from nearby West Des Moines, Iowa, chose Nebraska over the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes.
How they'll fit in: Campbell signed players from nearly 20 states, a sign that he intends to have a national footprint in recruiting. His offensive philosophy will be more run-focused that former coach Paul Rhoads, and no one is quite sure how the Cyclones will attack defensively. But Campbell now has some fresh talent to bolster a veteran group.
For the full list: https://cyclones.exposure.co/2016-national-signing-day