For the second-straight season, Iowa State football is faced with replacing a school record-holder at wide receiver.
In 2018, the Cyclones lost Allen Lazard a year after the Urbandale, Iowa, native broke the school record for most touchdown receptions in a single season (he did it with 11). Looking for someone to take his place, Iowa State turned to redshirt junior Hakeem Butler.
Butler set the Cyclone record for single-season receiving yardage and averaged more than 20 yards per catch, while pushing himself into consideration for a first-round pick.
So where do the Cyclones turn now, once again in the absence of the team's leading receiver?
That's a tough one to answer, not necessarily because of a lack of numbers, but a lack of experience. Apart from senior slot receiver Deshaunte Jones and redshirt sophomore speedster Tarique Milton, the Cyclones have very little in returning production among wideouts.
When factoring the experience into the mix, as well as the differences in personnel, the Cyclones may have to fill the void Butler left with a group of contributors.
Receivers coach Nate Scheelhaase — who has had to adjust to a new position group after spending 2018 as the team's running backs coach — said the Cyclones' young wideouts have shown well.
"There's a lot of guys who do a lot of different things," Scheelhaase said. "Tarique Milton's a guy. He played inside a bunch for us last year, but has been able to move outside and make some plays for us.
"Sean Shaw, Jr.; [Joseph] Scates, those guys have stepped up for us."
Milton was the second-leading receiver for Iowa State in 2018, with 417 yards on 34 receptions. Used primarily in the slot alongside Jones, he's been getting reps in Butler's old position this spring, and Milton said it's been positive so far.
"Being outside, I just have to get adjusted," Milton said.
Of the inexperienced options, Jalen Martin has been in Ames the longest. Martin is entering his fourth year with the Cyclones, but each season has been met with injury and the presence of Butler and Lazard in his preferred wide spot. But if he can continue to produce in practice, the opportunity is there for the redshirt junior to get game action early and often.
Another name to watch out for is redshirt freshman Joseph Scates, Scheelhaase said. Scates was one of four freshmen to be suspended last season, and he did not appear in a single game. The highly-touted recruit — who chose Iowa State over Alabama on signing day in 2018 — has also drawn praise from Jones, who said the young players have done a good job of accepting feedback from the senior.
"We know we got big shoes to fill," Jones said. "I think they're doing a great job in the scrimmages taking on that step and taking on the criticism that I give them and Tarique gives them, and just rolling with it and getting better every day."
Jones has stepped into a leadership role for the first time this spring, assuming the position from Butler as the team's most experienced wideout. Jones isn't taking snaps out wide, but the slot has been a key member of a youthful position.
Scheelhaase said Jones has grown into his new role without much in the way of an adjustment period.
As for the rest of the receivers group, Scheelhaase knows it won't be easy. But perhaps there's enough talent to supplement the Cyclones' losses.
Either way, Iowa State's passing attack is going to be different, for better or worse.
"There's a lot of guys that will help with [replacing Butler]," Scheelhaase said. "There's probably not one person that looks and plays exactly like Hakeem Butler, so there will be differences in our offense.
"He's a tough guy to replace."