Make no mistake about it, the 2013 Iowa State football season was derailed by injuries. Head coach Paul Rhoads won’t play the excuse card, but it’s hard to hide from the fact that a total of 13 players who registered a start in 2013 had to miss at least one entire game because of an injury.
It’s been well documented that ISU’s offensive line was hit the hardest by the injury bug. The Cyclones started 10 different players in the trenches and were forced to use nine different line combinations in 12 games.
Sorting out which injury was most costly to the team isn’t fair. They all hurt. However, I have heard Rhoads multiple times mention how the loss of wide receiver and special teams dynamo Jarvis West really hurt his team.
“We probably felt Jarvis’ injury as much as anybody’s last season,” Rhoads said. “When we lost him we really lost a weapon, both as a receiver and special teams performer.”
When looking back, you can see what Rhoads was referring to.
West, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., was coming into his own as a junior before he went down with a MCL injury early in the seventh game of the season vs. Oklahoma State. The speedy West had emerged as a favorite target of the Cyclone quarterbacks and an electric punt and kickoff returner.
He had caught 14 passes for 108 yards in the first six games and was forcing opposing teams to kick away from him. West was averaging 13.4 yards per punt return and a whopping 67.0 yards on two kickoff returns.
West introduced himself to the nation when he returned ISU’s first non-onside kickoff for a touchdown since 1994 at Texas Tech. West rambled 95 yards to paydirt en route Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Unfortunately, West’s season was cut short just two games later.
As Iowa State heads into spring drills, the wide receiver position is locked and loaded. The Cyclones return five receivers who combined for 105 catches in 2013, including Quenton Bundrage, who caught 48 passes for a school-record-tying nine TD grabs. Then you add into the mix two top-150 national recruits in D’Vario Montgomery (2012-USF transfer) and Allen Lazard (2014), and the Cyclones might just have their best receiving corps in school history come fall.
With its deep arsenal at the wideout spot, Rhoads still has high regard for West and what he can do for Iowa State in 2014.
“The senior that will lead that unit will be Jarvis,” Rhoads said. “Jarvis is now at full strength and he can do a lot of things with the ball in his hands. We can’t wait to see him back in pads for spring drills.”
Cyclone Nation can’t wait either.