Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell says finding a return specialist has been a priority this spring. Kene Nwangwu finished third in the Big 12 in kick returns with a 29 yard averaged. He was taken by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.
Campbell says it may take until fall camp to decide who takes over the role.
The All-American kickoff returner, who broke the school record for career kickoff return average (26.8), was selected in the fourth round by the Minnesota Vikings as the No. 119 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Nwangwu was also outstanding as All-American Breece Hall’s backup, tallying 339 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, while averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
The Frisco, Texas native raised his stock dramatically after running a 4.31 in the 40-yard dash at Iowa State’s Pro Day. Utilizing his speed and athletic ability, Nwangwu earned fourth-team All-America accolades as a kickoff returner in 2020, ranking seventh nationally (minimum 10 returns) in kickoff return yardage (28.9).
He had five returns of 30+ yards, including two of 65 yards or longer that helped the Cyclones in a pair of come-from-behind wins. His 85-yard kickoff return vs. Oklahoma came after the Sooners took the lead in the fourth quarter. The return set up the tying touchdown in a game the Cyclones won 37-30.
Nwangwu ended his career with 2,470 kickoff return yards, the most in Iowa State history and third all-time in Big 12 history. He also rushed for 774 yards in his career.