AMES — Running back Aaron Wimberly got in on the ground floor.
As Iowa State shored up the foundation of its state-of-the-art Bergstrom Football Complex late last spring, he stood in the vast footprint of what would become the weight room.
Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads.
“When I walked into that big area, I could have sworn it was a turf field, but he said it was a weight room,” said the Iowa Western Community College transfer — one of 25 players from eight states to sign National Letters of Intent Wednesday to play for ISU. “I was amazed, because it was so big a space. But after everything was put together I could really see everything for what it was.”
That’s a work in progress — for the program, which has been to three bowl games in four seasons under Rhoads, but not the facility, which has been fully functional for more than three months.
“Just look around,” Rhoads said. “This is the first class that we’ve recruited to this marvelous facility. That weight room, there’s none finer in all of college football.”
That’s no hyperbole, said early high school graduate Shawn Curtis, an offensive lineman already enrolled in classes.
“Top notch,” said the 6-5, 270-pound Orlando, Fla. native, who chose the Cyclones over Louisville and a slew of other schools. “Probably the best I’ve ever seen in any of my visits.”
Wimberly, who picked ISU over offers from Iowa, Penn State, Boise State and TCU, also already strolls around campus.
So do freshman Alton Meeks (linebacker, Orlando, Fla.), and junior college transfer Emmanuel “E.J.” Bibbs (tight end, Arizona Western).
Meeks, one of a Rhoads era-high nine Sunshine State recruits, said he’s well aware of how high the linebacking bar at ISU remains despite the loss of likely 2013 NFL Draft picks A.J. Klein and Jake Knott.
“They kind of set the standard, so you don’t want to let them down,” Meeks said. “I never got to play with those guys, but I’m here with the guys that did play with them. And how passionate they are about it, and how strongly do they feel? You can just kind of feel it.”
Wimberly, Rhoads said, could make an immediate impact this season, as could Bibbs and Iowa Western teammate Rodney Coe.
Coe — a former Iowa running back recruit turned defensive lineman — has bulked up to about 290 pounds.
“Big body, fast on his feet,” Wimberly said. “He could really made a difference.”
As for his old running back skills ...
“He can still move,” Wimerbly said with a laugh.
ISU’s profile has moved up to the point players such as Bibbs spurn late offers from Oklahoma and Nebraska.
In Bibbs’ case, location was key.
“My mom wanted me here,” said the Chicagoan.
And once players arrive, Cyclone assistant coach Shane Burnham said, they like what they see — from facilities to relationships.
“The more kids we get up here, the more they multiply,” he said.
DEPARTURES: Rhoads announced defensive lineman Quinton Pompey and wide receiver Ja’Quarius Daniels are no longer with the team.
IOWA STATE’S 2013 SIGNEES
Bryan Ajumobi, WR, 6-2, 210, Grand Prairie, Texas
Emmanuel Bibbs, TE, 6-3, 245, Chicago, Ill. (Arizona Western CC)
Tyler Brown, RB, 5-11, 180, Lakeland, Fla.
Jake Campos, OL, 6-7, 260, West Des Moines
Rodney Coe, DE, 6-3, 285, Edwardsville, Ill. (Iowa Western CC)
Kamari Cotton-Moya, DB, 6-1, 185, Bakersfield, Calif.
Shawn Curtis, OL, 6-5, 270, Orlando, Fla.
Robby Garcia, DL, 6-3, 280, Tampa, Fla.
Ryan Glenn, OL, 6-4, 265, Waukee
Brandon Harris, WR, 6-1, 185, Cedar Hill, Texas
Trevor Hodge, QB, 6-2, 190, Perris, Calif.
Jacob Homa, OL, 6-5, 260, Brookfield, Wis.
Joel Lanning, QB, 6-2, 220, Ankeny
Alex Leslie, TE, 6-5, 220, New Braunfels, Texas
Justin Madison, LB, 6-2, 210, Tampa, Fla.
Alton Meeks, LB, 6-3, 240, Orlando, Fla.
Brian Mills, LB, 5-11, 195, Clermont, Fla.
Nick Severs, OL, 6-4, 250, Macomb, Ill.
Kamari Syrie, DB, 5-10, 190, Hurst, Texas
Vernell Trent, DT, 6-4, 255, Jacksonville, Fla.
Nigel Tribune, DB, 5-11, 175, Jacksonville, Fla.
J.D. Waggoner, DE, 6-2, 230, Dallas, Texas
Justin Webster, LB, 6-1, 217, Houston, Texas
D.A. Williams, DB, 5-10, 170, St. Augustine, Fla.Aaron Wimberly, RB, 5-11, 180, Snellville, Ga. (Iowa Western CC)