McNutt set to lead Hawkeye receiving corps

BY MATT COZZI | AUGUST 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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Three years ago, Marvin McNutt was taking snaps as the third-string quarterback in fall camp. His chances to ever start a game under center in an Iowa uniform appeared slim to none.

Now, more than 80 receptions and 1,500 yards later, McNutt has emerged as the Hawkeyes’ most consistent offensive weapon.

Following a 2010 season in which McNutt started all 13 games and led the team in receptions and receiving yards, the St. Louis native aims to lead the Hawkeyes in those categories again this year.

Named to the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the nation’s top receiver, McNutt decided to forgo the NFL draft in January and return for his senior season.

“[McNutt] knew we all had his back,” junior receiver Keenan Davis said at Iowa’s media day on Aug. 5. “If he [went to the NFL], we were all going to support that … We love him, and he’s a great leader.

He knows what he’s got to do.”

Davis, who will line up opposite McNutt at receiver this season, said he’s continually impressed with his teammate’s leadership style.

As he gets set to anchor what is a relatively inexperienced receiving corps, McNutt said he knows what his veteran role requires.

“I have to not only be a leader with the receivers but also the team,” McNutt said at Big Ten media days last month. “We don’t have a huge group of [seniors] like last year, so with me having been here a while and being a senior, I do have to be a more vocal leader.”

Redshirt freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley, who is in competition with junior Steven Staggs and sophomore Don Shumpert for the Hawkeyes’ No. 3 receiver spot, has benefited from McNutt’s experience both on and off the field.

“I look up to Marvin a lot,” Martin-Manley said at the team’s media day. “I try to learn from all his techniques, how much he watches film. He’s a student of the game. Marvin has been great for me.”

Heading into his final season, McNutt’s presence at his position on the field is likely to gain much attention from Iowa’s opponents.

The 6-4, 215-pound receiver expects to entertain a variation of coverage schemes from opposing defenses, including double and triple coverage.

Wide receivers coach Erik Campbell said the extra attention McNutt draws may be challenging at times, and others will have to step up.

“We’ve played before when guys get doubled during the course of the season, and other positions are also key — tight ends and running backs,” Campbell said. “It’s not just one receiver. Our system is built [so] we have more than one guy who is eligible to catch the football.”

Despite the presumed concentration that other teams will have on McNutt — and the potential accolades he could garner — he’s not letting the added pressure faze him.

“I wouldn’t even call it pressure,” he said. “It’s going to be a role I need to step into. I need to continue making plays for this team.”

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