Coach Paul Rhoads’ signing day news conference sent a message about how pumped he was to land Allen Lazard. The four-star wideout from Urbandale, Iowa, signed with the Cyclones despite feverish attempts by Notre Dame and instate rival Iowa to get him to flip, all the way up to signing day.
Rhoads used the words "mature," "trustworthy" and "integrity" to describe Lazard, who committed to Iowa State in December 2012 and stuck with that commitment for 14 months.
Our summer series of weekly Q&As with the Big 12's best incoming freshmen continues today with Lazard, who has the talent to boost a veteran-laden Iowa State offense from Day 1:
What drew you to Iowa State during the recruiting process?
Lazard: I really hit it off with the coaching staff when they first started recruiting me. They basically recruited me my entire high school career. They were my first offer. I just really liked the coaching staff, and the player personnel. I bonded a lot with the players when I went up there. I just really liked it. It’s close to my home. And I really enjoy the fan base.
On signing day, Coach Rhoads referenced other schools recruiting you to the very end. Which schools was he referring to?
Lazard: Notre Dame was really the main one that kept on recruiting me. And that was because I let them. Because I committed so early in the process, I wanted to make sure I made the right decision. Notre Dame, they liked me as a player. I took an official visit to see what it was like. Once I had that official visit, a little bit after that I decided that while Notre Dame was a great place, Iowa State was a better fit for me. Just being in my home state, and having my family here was a huge plus for Iowa State. The weight room facility is brand new. The campus is beautiful, especially during the fall. The fan base is one of the best in the country.
Was there any negative recruiting?
Lazard: No. Bob Elliott was the (Notre Dame) coach that recruited me there. He coached at Iowa State three times in the past. When I first got my offer, he was still at Iowa State. And then he went to Notre Dame. So he never said anything bad about Iowa State. He had the utmost respect for Coach Rhoads, Coach (Wally) Burnham and all those guys.
Coach Rhoads seemed really pumped about getting you on signing day, even holding up your letter of intent during his news conference. How did that make you feel?
Lazard: I thought Coach Rhoads was very excited for the whole entire recruiting class. I guess he did talk about me at the beginning a little bit. But I think he was just excited about the whole entire group, not just one individual person.
You said you bonded with the coaches. Obviously there were some new coaches that arrived late in the recruiting process. What’s your relationship been like with the Manginos, both Mark and Tommy?
Lazard: When coach Mark Mangino first came in January, that first week or two, he came to one of my basketball games. So I got to meet him very early when he first got here. He actually came to my grandmother’s house. We sat down and talked a little bit. I got to know him a lot. So that was really nice. I like him a lot, especially with what he’s doing with the offense. We talked about that. When coach Tommy Mangino first got here, I came up to Iowa State just to meet him for the first time to get to know him. He’s one of my favorite coaches. I would’ve loved to have Coach (Todd) Sturdy as the receivers coach, even though he’s at quarterbacks now. But I think having both of them on the staff is a huge plus for our receiver corps.
How do you plan to deal with the pressure of being the top recruit in this class and someone who is going to have high expectations from the outside from the beginning?
Lazard: I was raised as someone not to let bigger things control you. Not let the whole moment get the most of you. Just enjoy the thing. I’m the kind of person that, say we’re playing at Texas next year and I drop a ball on third-and-5 or something. I’m not going to be pouting about it or anything. I’m going to keep the same mood and move on to the next play. I don’t let a lot of things bother me, even though the press has written a lot about me and said a lot of things I’m going do. I just stay focused on my personal goals, my team goals and just try to accomplish those to the best of my ability.
The offense you’re joining has a bunch of key players back from last year. Do you feel like it’s one that can do some damage this season?
Lazard: I’m definitely excited for this year. I think we have a lot of talent all over the offense. I think the offensive line is probably the strongest part, just having the veterans out there, Tom Farniok leading them. Then we have Quenton (Bundrage) at receiver. He did real well last year. We have a lot of veteran guys at receiver, too, as well as young guys. Then our running backs are great, too. We were 3-9 last year, so there’s not really any farther down we can go. It’s all uphill from here.
Everyone I’ve spoken with about you has brought up how mature you are for your age. How do you think that will help you on the football field?
Lazard: I think being a little bit more mature than my age will help me, make me work harder when I get there. I’m not going to be slacking off. I’ll be focused when it comes to walk-throughs and watching film and stuff like that. And I think that’s helped me throughout all my life, being able to develop a little more than other kids.
Where did you get that maturity?
Lazard: Just the way my parents and family have raised me. Not my whole life, but I’ve helped raise my younger brother and sister. Watching them throughout the summer when my parents were at work. I’ve been doing that since third or fourth grade. I’ve just been blessed with a really great family.