AMES — Before he even donned an Iowa State jersey, much was said and written about the expectations placed on freshman Allen Lazard.
The wide receiver from Urbandale — a four-star recruit by rivals.com — entered fall camp Monday trying to ignore the noise and do what he and his coaches feel he has to do to reach his goals.
“I think I’ve just got to learn the playbook first, then just comes the fundamentals of the game and just getting open and stuff,” Lazard said.
In his first fall camp practice, Lazard ran with the third team offense, which is where offensive coordinator Mark Mangino anticipated him to be. That’s not to say Lazard will be pegged into that whole when the Cyclones’ first game rolls around, but there’s certainly a learning curve with any player entering a program — no matter their talent level.
“As he gets more comfortable with what we’re doing, we’ll see where it progresses, but right now he’s just like all of the other freshmen in training camp,” Mangino said. “He’s wide-eyed, he’s trying to learn and he’s good student of the game.”
While many of the other players on the ISU offense were able to take advantage of spring practice time to learn the Mangino-run offense, Lazard didn’t have that luxury. He, along with other incoming players, went through their first day of ISU coaching and hands-on learning Monday.
ISU Coach Paul Rhoads said after Monday’s practice Lazard will be able to move up just like any other player would — by learning the offense and being productive.
“This rate of speed is different than what any high school player is used to coming in no matter what level of elite player they are and Allen’s an elite player,” Rhoads said. “If he gets those two things done, he’ll be on the field.”
Although Lazard is only 18, Rhoads often has talked about his maturity since he first landing arguably the most anticipated ISU recruits in recent memory. He put that maturity on display after Monday’s practice, recognizing there still is a lot of room to grow.
“I’m just like everyone else on the team. I’m a freshman, too,” Lazard said. “I’ve got to earn respect from the older kids, the coaches and I’ve got to earn a starting spot and playing time just like everyone else.”
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