First off, I will say that I think National Signing Day is an important day, but it's probably the most overrated thing in College Athletics. Unless you are in the Top 10 or so, it's all about system and development. I just don't see a huge difference between the #20 class and the #40 class. It's all pretty arbitrary.
I thought Cyclones.com did an awesome job with their signing day coverage. They've got bios on players, thoughts from the coaching staff, and pictures. You definitley should check it out if you haven't right here.
There were a few suprises. The first being that Cqulin Hubert switched up at the last minute from ISU to Texas Tech. But 1 guy out of the 28 added is a very small percentage. This type of stuff happens all the time. These guys are 17 or 18 years old and battling a ton of pressure. I'm not going to get too worked up about a guy who hasn't stepped foot on the field; I'm just not.
There were a handful of guys we had really heard nothing about (Pate, Wedderburn, Kron, and Gary), but not a huge deal. I like giving the nod to a handful of some local guys. They aren't necessarily going to be front runners to get a lot of playing time, but as a public University in the State, we should be giving some of the better High School players the chance to develop and see what they can do with time. It worked for Jesse Smith.
I think it's obviously our immediate needs were help on the Defensive Line, and help on the Linebacking Corps. Rony Nelson looks like he'll be a contributor, and Mattison and George look like good athletes, but it's hard to tell what kind of an impact they will have at this point. Since Nelson is a JUCO, assuming he gets his academic issues in order, I'll give him the nod to make the biggest impact on the defensive side.
Offensively, people are excited about Shontrelle Johnson. Hard not to be. He seems like a similar mold to A-Rob, and we could see him start off the year as the #2 guy behind him.
Overall, it's really hard to tell though. I think football is the hardest sport to project future talent. At Iowa State, we're never going to get the best recruiting class. We need to have a coaching staff that can find the right system to run for the players we have, and to develop our players. We won't know that for a few years. Football takes a long time to turnaround. This past year was good, and the next will probably be similar (but the schedule gets harder). After that, it's going to be a ton of rebuilding.
There are plenty of other schools with high quality programs pulling in average looking classes (Boise State and TCU for example). These schools know what they're looking for, and have the right system in place to allow for the guys they have coming in to achieve. Iowa State needs to be the same way.
The big thing people want to know is if this was a good recruiting class. I'd say that based on conventional rankings like Rivals, it is our best class in a long time. But, you really can't rate it until 3 or 4 years from now, when these guys are upperclassmen. Just the way it is. If it was easy, everyone would have it figured out.