AMES — New Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino insists there will be no favorites in the Cyclones new offense.
That hasn’t stopped senior tight end E.J. Bibbs from at least trying to be Mangino’s favorite, or at least that is what Mangino believes, jokingly.
“He is an affectionate guy,” Mangino quipped. “He is the only player that I have, counting the 32 years ... he probably shakes my hand on the practice field 15-20 times a day.
“He walks by, says hey coach, comes over shakes my hand. A great kid.”
Mangino says the key to ISU’s offense this year will be stretching the field and using all available weapons. He adds that a go-to guy can emerge in his offense, but it will come organically, not by design.
With that said, it will be hard to imagine, Bibbs not playing a huge role offensively for the Cyclones in 2014.
The Chicago native, who arrived in Ames via Arizona Western Community College, made a splash last year, earning second team all-Big 12 honors after catching 39 passes for 462 yards and a pair of scores. Bibbs’ 39 catches ranks as the second-most by a Cyclone tight end in school history and tied for 13th among all FBS tight ends in 2013.
Bibbs, additionally, had two or more catches in all 12 of Iowa State’s games last year, the only Cyclone to do so. His final two games saw him reach post season-highs with 71, then 75 yards receiving.
Bibbs junior season grabbed the attention of league coaches, who voted him first team preseason all-Big 12 this year and he earned similar honors from Athlon’s, Phil Steele, Sporting News, Lindy’s and the Bleacher Report. He enters the season already on the Mackey Award watch list, the trophy given annually to the nation’s best tight end.
“It’s a big honor to hear my name or see my name mentioned on all those lists,” Bibbs said. “But that isn’t what I’m about, I’m about getting better and trying to help my team earn some victories, and I’m going to do whatever it takes, catching passes, blocking, whatever is asked of me.”
At 6-foot-3, 261-pounds, Bibbs was a highly-sought recruit coming out of Arizona Western with offers from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Memphis, Nebraska and Texas Tech. After catching 22 passes for 230 yards and six touchdowns in 2012, JCfootball.com rated him as the No. 2 tight end, and 44th best JUCO recruit nationally.
Bibbs still found it tough once he arrived in Ames despite producing consistently in junior college.
“Last year was tough for me coming from JUCO, to adapting and learning a new offense,” he said. “It took some time, but I got it. This year, being one of the guys counted on, I want to play confident ... I feel confident.”
Mangino says Bibbs is as good of a tight end as he’s coached.
“He is anything he wants to be,” Mangino said. “He can be a tight end. He can be a wide receiver. He can be a tailback. I’m not so sure he couldn’t play quarterback.
“But he is a special guy, a special athlete. There is not a pretentious bone in his body and is so much fun to be around. But on the football field, he is a monster.”
©2014 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
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