When was the last time Iowa had a wide receiver catch over 1,000 yards in a season?
Keep reading if you want the answer!
It was back in 2011, when Marvin McNutt caught 82 balls for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. Around that same time, I was drinking six days a week and eating Falbo’s seven.
And the last guy to rack up 1,000 yards in a season before McNutt?
Kevin freaking Kasper in 2000.
So Iowa is currently pacing one 1,000-yard receiver a decade. That’s pretty good!
Obviously it’s a little unfair to frame the receiving situation in such a manner, what with success that wide receiver tandems such as McNutt and DJK, Clinton Solomon and Ed Hinkel and Tim Dwight, and even Matt VandeBerg and Tevaun Smith enjoyed.
But still, just one 1,000 receiver every 10 years is not the best thing to be looking at.
BUT THE TIGHT ENDS, you may decry. You can. But it only strengthens my point.
Let’s stop litigating the past, and peer into the present.
Meet the Smiths
Behind door No. 1 we have Brandon Smith. A junior out of Boofoo Mississippi, Smith is a Kelvin Bell recruiting success story, as he had little to no offers outside of high school despite being a state track star. Now, he’s poised to perhaps become Iowa’s first 1,000-yard receiver in 8 years.
Even with Iowa’s three leading receivers from a year ago departing, Smith still has his work cut out for him. He had just 28 catches a year ago, going for 361 yards and 2 scores. He came into his own towards the second half the year, when teams were dialing in on Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson and Nick Easley.
The flashes weren’t often for Smith, but boy, were they there.
That was neat!
And my personal favorite:
That play, to me, encompasses the skill and athleticism a player like Smith has in his tool box. At 6-2 and 218 lbs he’s got the size and the strength to outbody corners and climb the ladder. He’s probably gonna be Nate Stanley’s first look this year. A 1,000 yard season doesn’t seem likely given the circumstances, but give me 60 balls, 700 yards and 7 scores and we’ll be good.
Smith Me, Almighty Smither!
Ihmir Smith-Marsette might be my favorite player on this team. Not only because I think he’s Iowa’s most dynamic player with the ball in his hands, but because of what he did to Iowa State in Ames in 2017:
As a freshman in 2017, Smith-Marsette had just 187 yards and 2 touchdowns, but 36 yards and both scores came against Iowa State, so its safe to say he HATES Iowa... State.
His junior campaign was slightly disappointing, amassing just 361 yards and 3 scores on 23 catches, but he made a name for himself as a dynamic return man, and he’s still Iowa’s most exciting player when he’s got the ball.
Of course, if Oliver Martin were to get his waiver granted this season, then one would think ISM gets put in a drawer, with Nico Ragaini or Tyrone Tracy filling the slot role. I simply refuse to think that because 1. There’s no way a waiver rules favorably for Iowa, and 2. I still think ISM is just too good to keep off the field.
Iowa should become a pass-first offense this season (it isn’t) and Ihmir Smith-Marsette should be the straw that stirs that drink (he won’t be). All that being said, if Oliver Martin is able to play this year, lots of things could go out the window.
And speaking of Martin ...
The only other receivers who are still on the roster that logged a catch last year are Tracy (1), Max Cooper (3) and Ragaini (1).
Cooper has bulked up to a respectable size, but I don’t see the sophomore making a significant impact this season, as all the digital ink has been allocated to Tracy, Ragaini, and Samson Evans, a guy who we’re not sure what position he is yet, though he is currently on the roster as a running back.
Ragaini has been the front runner of the Don Shumpert Spring Player of The Spring Award this year, so I guess we got him in the slot. Though others are saying the things I’ve been saying about ISM in regards to Tracy, so he can’t be discounted, either.
Ragaini and/or Tracy will man the slot, which lately has been getting the bulk of work from Iowa’s quarterbacks. Nick Easley the past two years, Riley McCarron before him, and Matt VandeBerg before him. So we’re looking at a kinda strong possibility where a guy who had one catch last year leads Iowa in the category this year.
Kirk Did feel strongly enough to burn a redshirt on Max Cooper in 2018, and he’ll get his touches, but nothing too significant. And while Henry Marchese has seen some action at receiver as well, it’s been reported he switched sides of the ball this spring.
The unlikely’s start with Calvin Lockett. At 6-2, 182 he’s got good size and comes out of the speed state in Largo, FL. AND his high school coach was Marcus Paschal! Nice to see he’s still helping out the Hawks.
His high school numbers aren’t impressive, but, well, he’s a name. He was redshirted last year, so maybe he can take that speed, mix in some Doyleization, and become the Real Deal.
Then there’s the curious case of Charlie Jones. He walked-on to the program this season after playing at the University of Buffalo last season, where he was fine as a redshirt freshman. Jones grabbed 18 balls for 395 yards and 3 scores for a 10-4 Buffalo team, and handled 15 kickoffs for 289 yards.
He’ll be a redshirt sophomore, and I assume he’ll have to sit out this year unless he applied for a waiver, too. But he did get some run with a D1 program, so he could be a contributor in the future.
Desmond Hutson is the lone freshman recruit at the position. He’ll probably get redshirted.
So, how’s Iowa’s passing game gonna look without two NFL tight ends this year to Settle Stanley’s Stomach?