AMES — For current Iowa State football players, the future has become a closed loop leading up to and including the Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl game against Tulsa.
For Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads, the longer view came into sharper focus Wednesday.
Rhoads announced the ink had dried — or had nearly dried — on the commitment papers of JUCO all-Americans Aaron Wimberly (running back, Iowa Western) and Emmanuel Bibbs (tight end, Arizona Western)
“We beat a number of high-quality programs, BCS-level programs,” Rhoads said.
Among those schools hoping to sign Wimberly: Iowa, Boise State, TCU and Penn State, according to Rivals.com.
Bibbs’ signing hadn't yet been stamped official when Rhoads addressed reporters, so he couldn’t talk specifically about him.
But Bibbs, like Wimberly, is a second team JUCO all-American who had been courted by top programs (such as Oklahoma and Arkansas).
Wimberly, a 5-11, 180-pounder from Snellville, Ga., rushed for 1,150 yards and 13 touchdowns last season for the national champion Reivers.
“He’s a ball carrier, he’s a receiver, he’s a returner,” Rhoads said. “He is an offensive weapon at a number of places on the field and I promise you you’d better know where he is when he’s out there. ... He could line up all over the field, but he’s primarily recruited as a running back. That’s where he is.”
Two soon-to-be true freshman (Alton Meeks and Shawn Curtis) are expected to enroll early at ISU, beginning classes next month.
The Rivals-ranked three-star recruits will finish high school early in hopes of making just such a jump.
Meeks is a 6-3, 240-pound quarterback/linebacker from Orlando, Fla.
He’ll play the latter position for the Cyclones.
“He made that decision based on relationships and the direction of this program,” Rhoads said. “And it doesn’t hurt that the two guys that were graduating (A.J. Klein and Jake Knott) came in here and had the success that they did.”
Curtis, a 6-5, 270-pound offensive lineman also from Orlando, is expected to make an early push for playing time, Rhoads said, but given his position, his road to the field may feature more road blocks.
“It’s a great challenge,” Rhoads said. “Any time you’re closer to the football it’s harder to play early.”
RECRUITING REWIND: Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham was not a part of Alabama’s team in 1959 that played in the inaugural Liberty Bowl.
Repeat, he was not.
“I’m old enough, man,” Burnham said with a laugh.
Burnham, a native of Pell City, Ala., was, however, being recruited to play for Paul “Bear” Bryant and the Crimson Tide at the time.
He joined the team in 1960.
Alabama won its first of six national championships under Bryant the following season.
But was the Liberty Bowl appearance in 1959 a selling point?
“Well, yeah, I think that was coach Bryant’s first bowl game back,” Burnham said. “Auburn wasn’t going to a bowl and those type of things. So, yeah, it made an impression, so it was good.”
WILD CARD?: Quarterback Sam Richardson’s an unknown quantity to Tulsa, but he doesn’t see that as a distinct advantage.
“They have film on me, we have film on them,” said Richardson, who is set for his second career start.