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Hawks deep on receiving end for fall season

BY BRENDAN STILES | APRIL 22, 2009 7:26 AM

The receiving corps was by no means the most productive group of offensive players for Iowa in 2008, but it didn’t have to be — not with the likes of running back Shonn Greene or tight end Brandon Myers playing such vital roles for the Hawkeyes.

Neither Greene nor Myers will don Iowa uniforms in 2009, but aside from the loss of Andy Brodell, enough experience at wide receiver returns that it just might be the current crop of Hawkeye wideouts proving critical toward a successful ’09 campaign.

Yet the one receiver who may have the biggest impact didn’t come to Iowa as a wideout.

This time last spring, sophomore-to-be Marvin McNutt was competing with the likes of Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi to be Iowa’s starting quarterback. Last weekend, however, when the Hawkeyes entered their final spring practice, McNutt had embraced the role of catching passes from his one-time counterpart, Stanzi.

“I was very open because I just wanted to be a big part of this team,” he said. “I love the Hawkeyes, and I want to show that I’m here for the Hawkeyes, and not just for Marvin McNutt.”

If the one-handed catch he made during that final practice along the sideline is any indicator, McNutt could become a household name, if he isn’t one already.

“We always knew Marv was an athlete. Everybody knows that,” Stanzi said. “Seeing him at wide receiver is nice. He’s a big target, he’s got great hands, and he has really worked on his speed this off-season, so he’s been moving pretty fast out there.”

McNutt described being a receiver as “pretty cool.”

“Most of the cornerbacks you face aren’t as tall as you or as big as you. You’re not getting hit by linemen all the time,” McNutt said when contrasting the two positions. “It’s different, but it’s a change.”

McNutt is just one in the group of wideouts Iowa brings back with experience. Listed alongside McNutt as a first-stringer on the two-deep released last week was senior-to-be Trey Stross, who was praised for his efforts this spring by offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe during an April 14 press conference.

“He’s competed hard, has stepped up and really provided some leadership also, doing some nice things,” O’Keefe said. “He’s matured. I think physically, he’s stronger than he’s been and that’s all starting to show up in what he’s doing on a daily basis.”

Also adding depth to the corps are juniors-to-be Colin Sandeman, Paul Chaney Jr., Don Nordmann and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who led the Hawkeyes in 2008 with 44 receptions and 639 receiving yards. The Hawkeyes also signed three receivers to national letters of intent last February — prep standouts Keenan Davis, Jordan Cotton, and Stephane N’goumou.

Sandeman’s speed throughout the spring had Stanzi excited about the Bettendorf native’s potential.
“Colin is a very quick guy. He’s quick off the line,” the junior-to-be said. “He’s tough for linebackers to get their hands on him, and because of that, he can run really good routes.

“He’s just a great threat down the field and in the middle, where he can catch the ball and really make some things happen.”

With a plethora of playmakers at his disposal, yet plenty to still be answered, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is looking for his receivers to step up in 2009.

“Hopefully, all those guys continue to ascend,” Ferentz said. “We’re hardly home free yet at receiver.”


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