- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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Texas found out first hand just how dangerous Iowa State running back Aaron Wimberly could be when healthy.
A week after totaling up 137 rushing yards in his first start at Tulsa, Wimberly rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown in the 31-30 loss to the Longhorns.
Unfortunately for Iowa State, that would be the apex of Wimberly’s season. An assortment of injuries hampered him the rest of the year, and he never topped 65 yards in a game again.
Keeping Wimberly healthy next season will be huge if the Cyclones are to reach their potential offensively. And Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads would like to see the former juco transfer fatten up before the season.
“He’s really lean. He’s got that great speed you like to see, but you better have some elasticity or some body fat if you’re going to be durable,” Rhoads said. “He’s below five percent body fat. I’d like to see him fatten up a little bit, which will help his health in turn.”
A little bit of fat could help. But when it comes to Wimberly’s health, the Cyclones could use a little bit of luck, too.
“Part of it is flat-out luck. We’re in a practice week (in late October), and he just pops a hamstring,” Rhoads said. “(Before that) he’s having a really good practice in August, and Jeremiah George, an All-Big 12 linebacker, just lays him out, and we lose him for 16 practices.”
Rhoads said this is the best collection of offensive talent he’s had since arriving at Iowa State in 2009.
Quenton Bundrage could be an All-Big 12 wideout after hauling in nine touchdowns, which ranked third in the league last season. E.J. Bibbs comes back as well after ranking in the top 15 nationally in receiving among tight ends. The Cyclones will also add a pair of receivers who were highly touted coming out of high school in 2014 signee Allen Lazard and South Florida transfer D'Vario Montgomery.
Up front, virtually the entire offensive line returns. And the Cyclones have a competent sidekick for Wimberly at running back in DeVondrick Nealy.
The quarterback question will have to be hashed out. But if either Grant Rohach, Sam B. Richardson or even Joel Lanning emerges as the long-term answer, the Cyclones could become a dangerous team offensively -- provided that Wimberly is on the field.
This spring, Wimberly is finally feeling good again, telling Rhoads that “it’s not even close” how much more developed he is in terms of strength and speed than he was in junior college.
If he can stay healthy, he has the talent to gash the entire the Big 12 the way he did to Texas in one game.