It has already been an off-season filled with change for the Toledo Rockets. From losing defensive coordinator Tom Matukewicz to Southeast Missouri State, to now losing running backs coach Lou Ayeni to Iowa State, there will be plenty of new faces on the Rockets coaching staff come next fall, but the turnover is already having an impact on the program.
Losing Ayeni immediately effected Toledo on the recruiting trail. Three-star running back Mike Warren from Lawton, Okla has been extremely high on the Rockets' recruiting board ever since the 6-1, 185 pounder ran a lightning-quick 4.34 40-yard dash at a Texas A&M camp over the summer. After posting that 40-yard dash, Warren backed it up with his play in the fall, rushing for 2,512 yards and 26 touchdowns. Despite the big numbers, Warren emerged late in his high school career which caused him to slip under several radars from big-time schools, allowing Toledo to show its interest in him.
Warren flew up to Toledo on Dec. 6 for his visit and enjoyed it, but, as you can imagine, as soon as Ayeni got to Ames, Iowa, he immediately picked up the phone and called Warren.
After talking with Warren, Iowa State decided to offer the three-star running back, immediately putting the Cyclones at the top of his list. Ayeni was arguably the only reason why they chose to offer Warren.
"I didn't hear from Iowa State before coach Lou came there," Warren told CycloneReport.com (pay wall). "He had spent a long time recruiting me at Toledo and once he got to Iowa State they ended up offering. Coach Lou came to my house for an in-home visit and to my school multiple times (while at Toledo)."
Ayeni is working to close the deal with Warren to attend Iowa State as Toledo continues to search for a new running backs coach. Warren is planning a visit to Ames on January 24th and will also be visiting Tulsa and Wake Forest before signing day.
With signing day under three weeks away, Warren's decision is coming shortly and the loss of Ayeni could result in the collateral loss of a highly sought-after recruit.