Ten Cyclone Football Players Who Exceeded Recruiting Expectations

As I created this article, with the help of Cyclone Recruit Highlights, we dove into the top 10 players during this decade that overachieved according to their recruiting status. This article goes to show that lots of the time, recruiting stars, ranking, and grade do not matter. Click here or on the Icon to follow Cyclone Recruiting Highlights on Twitter: 

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1. Brian Peavy (CB)

Not many schools were looking at Brian Peavy, a 5-9 defensive back from Houston weighing only 165 pounds. Later, schools regretted not looking into Peavy. He only had offers from Iowa State and Central Arkansas, along with a late offer from Texas Tech. However, Peavy went on to become one of ISU’s best defensive backs, starting 47 games and totaling 289 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 38 pass breakups, 6 interceptions and 6 forced fumbles to go along with 3 fumble recoveries. Check out a highlight video from Peavy’s time at ISU: (Created by me, with clips that belong to ISU, ESPN, etc.)

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2. Willie Harvey Jr. (LB)

Willie Harvey was not recruited by any power 5 schools other than ISU at all. His other top offers consisted of: UTSA, Southern Miss, Marshall and Florida Atlantic. The Florida native was given a two star grade from 247 sports while ESPN did not even bother to give Harvey a grade. Also, Harvey did not seem to be on the radar too much with two already two star Cyclone linebackers who both went on to the NFL in A.J. Klein and Jake Knott. However, Harvey thrived in his Cyclone role when given the opportunity. He totaled 289 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, and t forced fumbles to go along with 3 fumble recoveries in his time at ISU. He also defied the odds again after his time with the Cyclones, eventually making the 53 man Cleveland Browns roster after being signed to a team tryout. Check out a highlight video from Harvey’s time at ISU: (Created by me, with clips that belong to ISU, ESPN, etc.)

3. Hakeem Butler (WR)

Former Cyclone Hakeem Butler was not even ranked in the top 2000 players in his class by recruiting leaders 247 sports. The wide receiver now finds himself with the Arizona Cardinals after being selected in the 4th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The now NFL receivers list was small with offers from Central Arkansas, McNeese State, New Mexico State, Houston and Iowa State. He was given a lowly two stars as he enrolled in Ames as a Cyclone. In his final year at ISU, Butler broke the single season receiving record at ISU with 1,318 yards and also totaled 9 TDs. Check out a highlight video from Hakeem Butler’s time at ISU featuring his best plays and his name bing announced on draft day: (Created by me, with clips that belong to ISU, ESPN, etc.)

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4. Tarique Milton (WR)

Tarique Milton began the recruiting process under the radar. He had an initial 2 star rating from 247 Sports which was raised to a 3 star when he gained recruiting traction from some top schools. He was not even rated by ESPN and only weighed 150 pounds in high school. However, none of this stopped him as he totaled 722 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Cyclones in the latest campaign. He looks to be a top receiver for the Cyclones again going into next year.


5. Datrone Young (CB)

Datrone Young was another smaller talent out the high school. Also weighing around 150, Young’s only other major offers were from Wisconsin and Rutgers (if they count). He was not ranked within the top 200 defensive backs in his class and was barely ranked in the top 400 players from Florida in his class. He had an up and down season as a starter last year for the Cyclones, and looks to have a solid starting season for the Iowa State in this upcoming season.



6. Tom Farniok (OL)

South Dakota native Tom Farniok came to Ames in 2010. The standout center was a standout on ISU’s offensive line. However, he received little recruiting interest, with his only online documented offer from the Cyclones. Even without the recruiting accolades, Farniok was able to play at the next level, as he got signed by the Minnesota Vikings as a undrafted free agent.


7. Kamari Cotton-Moya (S)

Former Cyclone safety Kamari Cotton-Moya was given a 3 star rating by 247 sports coming out of high school in the class of 2013.  However, he still received no power 5 offers other than from the Cyclones. His other offers consisted of Fresno State, Nevada, San Diego State, and. Utah State. He went on to become a 4 year starter for the Cyclones and had an extremely productive career. He totaled 236 career tackles to go along with 5 career interceptions for the Cyclones. 



8. Jomal Wiltz (Cb/S)

Former Cyclone Jomal Wiltz was a lockdown defensive back for ISU. Recruited out of Junior College, Wiltz was not rated on 247 Sports and had a low 3 star rating on ESPN. His only other power 5 offer out of junior college other than the Cyclones was California. His other offers consisted of Middle Tennessee, Tulsa and UNLV. Wiltz totaled 90 tackles to go along with 2 interceptions during his time with Iowa State. He went on to sign in the NFL where he now starts at safety for the Miami Dolphins. In his latest NFL season. Wiltz racked up 58 tackles and also added an interception. 


Here is a highlight video posted by Jomal WIltz to Youtube: 

9. Cory Morrissey (DE)

Much like Wiltz, Morrissey came to ISU from Junior College. He was ranked as a two star by 247 Sports coming out of Junior College and only had major interest from ISU. However, the Gilbert, Iowan native had an outstanding career in Ames, totaling 110 tackles, 17 tackles for loss an 8 sacks. He also added 3 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens but decided to step away due to lack of passion for the game.


10. Charlie Kolar (TE)

Current Cyclone standout tight end Charlie Kolar was not heavily recruited. The Norman, Oklahoma native only had one power 5 offer other than the Cyclones, and that was in state school Oklahoma State. His other offers consisted of Air Force, Army and New Mexico. He was a low 3 star recruit on recruiting leader 247 Sports but has now presented himself as a top tight end in the country. Kolar totaled almost 700 yards last season to go along with 7 TDs. He was robbed of the Mackey award this past year, an award going to the nations top tight end.  He decided to return to play for the Cyclones during the 2020 season and looks to be a early round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Here are Kolar’s Highlights from the past season:

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