There aren't many things more enjoyable to read about on the interwebs than a good ol' fashioned hype train. A coach mentions a young, promising player during a spring presser or early in the summer, you see a tweet here or there, and BAM! Suddenly player x is going to be the second coming of Nile Kinnick himself.
Given the departure of nine (five offense, four defense, and 11 total if you count Dillon Kidd and Marshall Koehn) starters from last year's Hawkeyes, the hype train seems to have gained more momentum than in years past. Names like Cedrick Lattimore or Jay Scheel (just to call out a few) fly around, and the next thing you know, you're reading a post on it about here on The Pants. To keep this train on the rails, we'll stick to wide receivers today, and perhaps look into another position group down the line.
Another @PFF stat, Matt VandeBerg played 360 of 370 11 personnel snaps. Jake Hillyer was next at 356. Hillyer snaps = huge opp for someone— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) July 19, 2016
As our friend Marc Morehouse pointed out a few weeks ago, there are a TON of snaps to be had for a young member of the Iowa offense. We know Matt VandeBerg is going to be this team's No. 1 receiver, and likely split the majority of the attention from opposing defenses with tight end/red-blooded American male George Kittle. Before we continue, let's pause to digest that and appreciate that George Kittle and Matt VandeBerg are going to be the leading pass-catchers on what's hopefully a top-15 team in 2016. F yeah, Iowa.
Cool, that was fun.
Now, who is going to take those Hillyer snaps and act as another weapon for C.J. Beathard to use, while taking a big role blocking and creating space downfield for the ball-carrier?
My money is on a combination of Riley McCarron, because experience, along with Scheel, and perhaps Adrian Falconer or Emmanuel Ogwo. As you know, BTN's finest were at practice Wednesday, with Gerry DiNardo weighing in and partially agreeing with what I just wrote.
BTN Camp Tour #Hawkeyes Some WR that will play and develop – Scheel, Nash, Young, Smith— Gerry DiNardo (@gerrydinardo) August 17, 2016
Scheel’s first non-redshirt in Iowa City year was severely underwhelming due to injury. We know the guy's an athlete, coming into Hawkeyeland as a four-star recruit. Again, looking too much into everything, as is tradition during the offseason, it appears he may have the inside lane to that third spot.
Jay Scheel shown running with the 1s on BTN practice clip. (I think he went on to post 6 TD catches later on; those weren't shown.)— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) August 17, 2016
In regards to the others DiNardo mentioned, I don’t see Kirk and company burning freshman Devonte Young’s redshirt to take a couple snaps here and there, even though this position group is just as likely as any to play true freshmen (see: T. Smith, J. Smith, MVB, etc.). Sophomore Ronald Nash is the largest of any wide out mentioned in this post at 6-2, 210. So based on the limited evidence we have here, don’t be surprised to see him early on.
There is also, of course, converted (for now, at least) quarterback Ryan Boyle in this group for the time being. With his redshirt year under his belt, he’s another option.
It’s a lot to take in, I know.
As mentioned above, all of this is to say we still don’t know what’s going to go on with that third spot, and we won’t know until week one. What we do know is there are lots of options, some seemingly more viable than others.
I’m looking forward just as much as you are to seeing how the biggest question mark on Iowa’s offense shakes out.