Team success unfortunately eluded Iowa football for much of this season, but as I noted yesterday, there were definitely some excellent individual performances by Iowa players. At the top of that list is Marvin McNutt, who wrapped up his Iowa career in spectacular fashion. Even with a disappointing 4 catch, 29-yard performance against Nebraska last week, McNutt still wound up with 78 catches for 1269 yards and 12 TDs. He led the league in yards and touchdowns and finished second (behind Illinois' A.J. Jenkins) in receptions. It was, by any measure, an utterly fantastic season and one that was great fun to watch. It was so good -- so dominant, in fact -- that it earned McNutt the Big Ten's inaugural Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year Award, named for Wisconsin's Pat Richter and Michigan's Desmond Howard. It's a very well-deserved honor; congrats, Marvin, and thanks for all the memories.
Not surprisingly, Marvin's superlative-defying efforts also earned him first team All-Big Ten honors from both the coaches and the media. Riley Reiff was Iowa's other consensus first team All-Big Ten selection, while Shaun Prater earned first team honors from the Big Ten coaches (he was an honorable mention selection from the media). Marcus Coker was a consensus second team All-Big Ten pick (Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Nebraska's Rex Burkhead took home first-team honors) and there were a handful of other second team picks by both the media and the coaches. Adam Gettis and Mike Daniels were second team picks by the coaches, while Broderick Binns and Micah Hyde got second team love from the media. Several other Iowa players got honorable mention nods: Broderick Binns (coaches), James Ferentz (coaches/media), Eric Guthrie (coaches/media), Micah Hyde (coaches), James Morris (coaches/media), Markus Zusevics (coaches/media), Mike Daniels (media), Adam Gettis (media), and Tyler Nielsen (media). None of the selections are too surprising, save Prater's first team nod by the coaches. It certainly didn't seem like he was as good this year as he was last year (or the year before); either the coaches saw something different on film or they were voting for him based on his reputation.
That said, one Hawkeye player is slightly conspicuous by his absence in that rundown: James Vandenberg. Which is probably valid -- it's not every year that the Big Ten's leader in passing yards doesn't even merit Honorable Mention recognition. Russell Wilson was the consensus first-team All-Big Ten quarterback, which was well-deserved: he's third in the league in passing yards, owner of an obscene 28-3 TD-INT ratio, has a preposterous 10.4 yards per attempt average, and is on pace to set an NCAA record for QB rating (currently 192.9). Kirk Cousins and Denard Robinson split the second-team honors and you can certainly make convincing cases for both of them. Cousins' stats stack up favorably to Vandenberg's:
Cousins: 218/339 (64%), 2735 yards, 8.1 ypa, 21-6 TD-INT, 149.0 QB rating
Vandenberg: 214/360 (59%), 2806 yards, 7.8 ypa, 23-6 TD-INT, 142.7 QB rating
Denard's pure passing numbers don't measure up to either Cousins or Vandenberg, but as we all know passing is only half of the equation with Denard: all told, he accounted for over 3000 yards of total offense and 34 TDs, which is mighty impressive. Of course, Wilson, Cousins, and Robinson have something else going for them too: their teams won 10 games. Which is to say it's not at all surprising (and based on their solo stats, it's not even particularly wrong) for them to be tabbed ahead of Vandenberg, but the fact that he didn't get any honorable mention love is a little odd. Then again, perhaps they cast their votes after watching him against Nebraska. Or Penn State. Or Michigan State. Or... well, you get the picture. He had a fine season, but in reality, probably not really as good as the numbers would suggest.
Still, congrats to all the honored Iowa players; as disappointing as it was to watch the team go just 7-5, your efforts all season were very much appreciated.