Hawks buzzing about wideouts

BY AMIE KIEHN | AUGUST 24, 2009 7:05 AM

KC McGinnis/The Daily Iowan
Iowa wide receivers Trey Stross and Marvin McNutt pose for the cameras during this year's Iowa football Media Day.

The Iowa wide receiver garnering a staggering amount of Hawkeye football chatter is actually a quarterback — or rather was.

Former third-stringer Marvin McNutt made the transition from passer to receiver during midseason last year, which coincided with junior Ricky Stanzi’s lockdown on the quarterback position. Iowa wide-receiver coach, Erik Campbell, welcomed the sophomore’s offensive shift.

“Marvin, first of all, is a good athlete; so by being a good athlete, it makes his job easier to come out and make his transition to wide receiver, and also by knowing the game,” Campbell said at the Big Ten media days in Chicago last month. “He’s a smart young man, and he has great hands, and he’s a big guy. He’s a 6-3 receiver, so that helps a lot.”

McNutt’s ease into a wide receiver spot made quite the impression on teammate Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.

“Marv has made the transition from quarterback to receiver faster than I think anybody has,” Johnson-Koulianos said at the team’s media day on Aug. 8. “But I think the fact he was a quarterback in this system allowed him to make it a lot faster because he understood the offense.”

Iowa ranked second in the Big Ten in scoring offense (30.3 points per game) and significant additions to the wide-receiver position remains the Hawkeyes emphasis. Originally challenged by the departure of receiver Andy Brodell, Campbell is assured his 14 players are filling the void left by No. 80.

“The group is an experienced group coming back. You have Trey Stross, [Colin] Sandeman. You have Johnson-Koulianos, who was the leading receiver last season. [And] you have Paul Chaney,” Campbell said. “All those guys have played football — a lot of football. Then you’re adding a guy like Marvin McNutt to the group. That gives you a lot of depth and experience.”

Although Johnson-Koulianos’ hands were favored heavily last season — he led the team in receptions (44) and receiving yards (639) — coaches had the junior listed as a second-team wide receiver during the preseason.

The aftereffects of Johnson-Koulianos’s lineup fluctuation still linger for the Campbell, Ohio, native. But detractors’ skepticism have not fazed him.

“I feel like I’m the best player for the job,” he said. “Have I started here? Yes. Can I start again? Yes. Can I be productive? Yes. Now, will I be a starter by the beginning of the year? I don’t know. That’s not my decision. We’ll have to find out — wait and see.”

He has the added competition of a healthy Stross, who returns from a collar bone injury, in addition to two true freshmen — JoJo Pregont and Jordan Cotton — and two redshirt freshmen — Steven Staggs and James Hurt. Offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe has been impressed by the fresh talent.

“We’re excited,” he said. “The new guys are learning just how to run the routes and do what they need to do. There may be a young guy that can step in and work his way into the mix a little bit also.”

Stross has noticed the talent brimming on the field.

“All the receivers, we worked hard in the weight room like everyone else, and we’re a lot more mature and bigger, faster, stronger,” Stross said. “This should be a special year .”

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