A year ago, few outside of Florida or Auburn knew who Cam Newton was. A year later, he was a national champion and a Heisman winner.
Colleague Ryan McGee went in search of the next budding star that could be a household name next season. The only person on his list from the Big 12?
Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz.
Unless you're a big-time fan of the Northern California Football Association, you've likely never heard of Jantz. So here's some 2010 numbers that should get your attention: 3,075 yards and 23 TDs passing, 601 yards and 14 TDs rushing. Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads was in the stands last fall when Jantz threw for one touchdown and ran for four more versus Fresno City College in the NCFA title game, and clearly the QB's production got Rhoads' attention. Iowa State ranked 99th in total offense one year ago en route to a 5-7 record against a brutal schedule. The opponents get no easier in 2011, but it won't be because Jantz doesn't know how to move the football.
I'm not quite as sure about Jantz as McGee, and granted, Jantz still has to win a quarterback competition that's set to begin when Iowa State kicks off spring practice on March 22.
But then again, a year ago, so did juco all-everything Newton. McGee's not drawing a direct comparison, but if Jantz beats out Jerome Tiller to become the Cyclones' next quarterback and Iowa State gets off to a nice start, Jantz will earn plenty of recognition.