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June 12, 2013

Lazard: Iowa State pick wasn't random

MORE: Complete Five-Star Challenge coverage

Allen Lazard got razzed and questioned about his choice. Why would arguably the top wide receiver in the 2014 class pick Iowa State of all places?

He's from Urbandale, Iowa, his father played for the Cyclones, and his brother plays there now, but Lazard had high-profile options. Some of the biggest programs in the country were recruiting him.

Lazard, the top-rated receiver by Rivals.com, heard all that. When it came to decision time, though, he felt Iowa State was just the right fit.

"I definitely felt comfortable with Iowa State," Lazard said at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour. "When I committed, it wasn't some random commitment. I felt very comfortable with them and I thought about it and I talked with my family about it. They liked it being close to home and my brother playing there now.

"I just really liked the coaching staff there and the players and Coach (Paul) Rhoads' progress over the past few years. When I've seen what he's done, I want to be a part of it and hopefully change the program around even more.

"It was kind of tough not picking Alabama or Oregon or Stanford. At the end of the day, you pick what best suits you and you don't pick what other people suggest."

Rated as the No. 25 prospect in the 2014 class, Lazard had many options. He still does. The four-star receiver, who had a decent weekend at the Five-Star Challenge, took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in the last few days. He said he was "blown away" by the visit.

Oregon and California have been pushing the Urbandale standout, and Lazard said he is looking to take all of his official visits.

That's not to say Iowa State is slipping in the least. Although he doesn't say it, Lazard has a much better chance of landing early playing time in Ames than in South Bend or Tuscaloosa or Eugene. Lazard says that isn't a factor, but it could be a bonus if he sticks with the Cyclones.

"I wanted to see what schools offered, but I liked that it was close to home and I like the players they have there now. I wanted to see if the staff was still there; that's why I mainly picked Iowa State," Lazard said.

"Not a lot of four-star athletes come out of Iowa, and if they do they usually don't stay at home. No one has really said they were surprised they got me, but I guess I surprised a lot of people.

"Early playing time wasn't that big of a factor for me. I'm not the player who expects to go out there and have 1,000 yards receiving my first year or 120 catches. If I got on the field my freshman year, I'd be happy. I'm looking forward to getting to play."

It's still nearly eight months until National Signing Day. That's a long time for Iowa State to hold onto Lazard, a 6-foot-5, 204-pound recruit.

Notre Dame has interested him. He said at the Five-Star Challenge that if Alabama, Ohio State or Florida becomes interested, he might reciprocate. Official visits will happen. What if Iowa State has a poor season and the recruiting from other schools picks up even more? Lazard has made his choice -- that Iowa State is the right place. There's a lot of time left, though, and other programs aren't giving up.

"There's a family connection there," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said. "Coach Rhoads is a very good head coach, and Lazard is the type of guy who would really embrace being a big fish in a small pond. He wants to be the big man on campus. [But] it's going to be very tempting for him, especially if Iowa State doesn't have a good season and schools continue to press on for him to switch."



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