By Rob Gray
AMES — The coldest night in Jack Trice Stadium warmed the heart of Devron Moore.
The safety from Northeast Oklahoma A&M Community College looked past his icy breath — and toward a sunnier forecast for Iowa State.
“I pretty much knew when I first took a visit it was going to be hard to beat what they had to offer me,” Moore said.
Wednesday, the 5-11, 185-pound playmaker formally accepted that offer, joining three other junior college players to officially sign national letters of intent to play for the Cyclones.
ISU also saw the ink dry on JUCO commitments Jordan Harris, a linebacker; Gabe Luna, a defensive end; and Wendell Taiese, an offensive lineman.
All are expected to be enrolled in the spring semester — and to make a strong push for significant playing time right away.
“That’s what all four of them have been told,” said Cyclones’ coach Paul Rhoads, whose team (3-9 last season) beat Kansas 34-0 on Nov. 23 when Moore took his visit.
Moore chose ISU over Wisconsin, Utah, Texas Tech and others.
“Great fundamental defensive back skills that we look for,” Rhoads said. “And that starts with being able to backpedal. A lot of DBs these days play with their hips open. I don’t think you can be a great DB and not backpedal. He has the ability to do that and he’s a ball hawk.”
Moore, a self-described “aggressive free safety”, could fill an immediate need with longtime starter Jacques Washington graduating.
Harris, of Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College, could do the same as either a MIKE or WILL linebacker.
“Somebody that really studies the game and spends extra time doing that,” Rhoads said of the 5-11, 233-pounder who also had offers from Southern Mississippi, Memphis and Tulane. “Loves to play. … His personality really fits in with our program as well as myself: A first to arrive, last to leave type of guy.”
Rhoads aptly described the 6-5 Taiese as “a large human being.”
“He was 357 pounds of best player available,” Rhoads said.
Taiese, of Oakland, Calif., could eventually play at a somewhat lighter weight.
“(He) handles where he’s at remarkably well,” Rhoads said. “He’s really light on his feet and really gets in the open field and runs extremely well at that size.”
Luna, a 6-1, 245 pounder from Butler (Kan.) Community College, had three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception last season.
“He’s a blue-collar guy,” Rhoads said. “(Butler) had some other guys on that roster that are going to image programs, if you will, and the coach says, This is the guy I’m taking first’, and he’s our guy.”
Moore decided he’d be one of those guys while watching an estimated 30,000 fans brave the elements that eight-degree (and falling) November night.
The Cyclones stood at 1-9, but won two straight to close the season.
“You couldn’t even tell they were having a rough year if you went to that game,” Moore said. “They’ve still got a lot of people out there supporting them, so that’s pretty cool.”NO NEWS ON OPEN STAFF POSITIONS: Rhoads repeatedly declined to discuss possible progress in filling the vacant offensive coordinator position, as well as open quarterback and running back coaching spots. He did say he’d like to have changes completed before he embarks on recruiting again in mid-January.