As media day for the 2019 Iowa State football season came to a close on Thursday, one thing was clear when it came to the offense for this upcoming season: there are uncertainties at almost every position.
One of the biggest question marks comes from the wide reciever spot, with the Cyclones losing Hakeem Butler and Matthew Eaton to the NFL this offseason.
With the loss of Butler and Eaton, the Cyclones will have only one returning starter at wide reciever for the upcoming season — Deshaunte Jones.
The senior from Cincinnatti, Ohio is entering his fourth season for the Cyclones, bringing back the most experience of all the recievers the Cyclones have for the 2019 season.
Jones has racked up 108 receptions, 1,175 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 starts in his career for Iowa State.
With all his experience, Jones knows he will have to be a leader for this young group of recievers around him.
"This is really the first time I have had to have a leadership role and I am excited for it," Jones said. "We have a lot of great guys with so much talent, I am so excited to see what they can bring to the table."
Talent is a word that was brought up frequently when it comes to the new additions to the reciever room and the players that might have an expanded role in the offense this season.
Coach Matt Campbell spoke about the youth of the wide recievers the Cyclones have this upcoming season and spoke frequently about new guys having to 'go get' the starting job.
"Right now -- we just have talent in the receiver room, but right now that is all it is," Campbell said. "There is not a whole lot of experience to back up the potenital and the talent they might have."
Campbell spoke about Jones and the impact he expects him to make on the other inexperienced wide recievers around him.
Campbell said Jones has made big catches and plays since his first start for the Cyclones and believes he is no stranger to big responsibilty.
In high school, Jones was a quarterback for Colerian High School. Jones tallied 29 total touchdowns and completed 46 passes for 785 yards and nine touchdowns.
Campbell says that his experience as a quarterback for a big high school allowed Jones to be a leader before he even arrived at Iowa State.
"I don't think the stage has ever been been too big for [Jones]," Campbell said. "I think it huge to have someone in that room who can tell the guys, 'hey, here is what is coming and here is what coach Campbell and the offensive staff is expecting from us going forward."
Campbell says he is counting on Jones to be a leader not with his voice, but with his work ethic on and off the field.
Jones has a reputation among the coaching staff and his teammates of not being a big talker, but is instead seen as someone who shows the people around him how to act.
"[Jones] has always been someone who would rather show than talk when it comes to his leadership," Campbell said.
The questions for the offense don't stop when it comes to the players on the field, as Tom Manning returns to Iowa State after a one year stint in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts.
Manning returns to an offense with questions at reciever, running back and tight ends, on top of the weight of creating a new offense to help Brock Purdy take another step in year two.
Despite all the uncertainty around the recievers, Manning is thrilled that Jones will return to help the young recievers around him.
Manning says he thinks having a player like Jones will help him and his new offensive scheme due to the multiple positions Jones can play on the field.
"He is a jack of all trades for us," Manning said. "He can play anywhere and will be a key piece for us this season."
Although he is not a returning starter like Jones, sophomore Tarique Milton will look to continue the success he had in his rookie season for the Cyclones. Jones will be a big part of that, according to Milton.
Milton’s rookie campaign had him finish the season second on the team in receiving yards (417) and third in receptions (34).
Milton sees Jones as a mentor who has taught him how to be more agressive when it comes to jump balls in one-on-one coverage.
"[Jones] has taught me about leadership since my first snap here," Milton said. "He is going to be a big weapon this year and I will be sure to get more from him this season."