When Ihmir Smith-Marsette committed to Iowa, fans weren’t totally sure what to expect from the Newark, New Jersey native who had previously been committed to both Rutgers and Minnesota. They soon realized he was a dynamic playmaker with breakaway speed. He burst onto the scene with a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner, against Iowa State as a true freshman in 2017.
Over the last four years, the speedster has endeared himself to Hawkeye fans as the game breaker we all dream about. That culminated with a 53-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter of Iowa’s win over Wisconsin.
On Thursday, Iowa fans learned that will be the final memory of Smith-Marsette in a Hawkeye uniform.
Speculation about ISM’s status for the Music City Bowl matchup with Missouri began to get legs when he was absent from depth chart released earlier this week. That speculation was largely surrounding his health after his flip into the end zone following the bomb from Spencer Petras landed him in a walking boot. We now know it was not at all health related.
Smith-Marsette finishes his Iowa career with 1,615 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 110 receptions for an average of 14.7 ypc. He added 274 yards and 4 more touchdowns on the ground on 34 career carries (8.1 ypc). As a senior, ISM finishes with 345 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns on 25 catches (13.8 ypc) with 54 yards and 1 rushing touchdown on 7 carries (7.7 ypc) through 8 games.
The shortened season was admittedly a bit of a letdown following Smith-Marsette’s explosive junior season that culminated with his 3-TD performance against USC in the Holiday Bowl. But it wasn’t without its excitement and, despite the issues Petras has had in connecting on downfield passes, the speed of Smith-Marsette proved invaluable in keeping opposing safeties out of the box to open things up for the Iowa running game.
ISM was also held relatively quiet in the return game in his final season. That was due in large part to opposing teams choosing to flat out not kick to the preseason All-American. Smith-Marsette was the Big Ten’s Returner of the Year in 2019 and if given an opportunity could change the course of a game on one kick.
Now, Iowa’s electric star looks to become the first Hawkeye receiver selected in the NFL Draft since Marvin McNutt went in the 6th round of the 2012 draft. His game-breaking speed should translate and his abilities in the return game will ensure Smith-Marsette find his way into an NFL roster regardless of where he’s drafted.
Congratulations to Ihmir Smith-Marsette on an incredible career at Iowa. Thanks for the memories and best of luck at the next level.