Martin-Manley bolstering Iowa's receiving corps


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Kevonte Martin-Manley was "basically invisible" in August.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said the redshirt freshman receiver was hampered by a foot injury for most of the preseason camp.

"I don't know how many catches he had in camp," Ferentz said. "Not many."

He had none in the Hawkeyes' season-opener against Tennessee Tech. He made his first four career catches the next week against Iowa State.

But in more recent weeks, Martin-Manley has been "coming alive," Ferentz said.

Statistically, "coming alive" has meant 10 catches for 158 yards in Iowa's last two games. That includes an almost-revelatory performance against Pittsburgh on Sept. 17. Two of Martin-Manley's four catches were for touchdowns, both of which came in the game's final seven minutes to help the Hawkeyes complete their largest comeback ever.

The 6-0, 205-pound Martin-Manley was matched up against the 6-2, 220-pound Todd Thomas on both plays. Still, the size disadvantage didn't keep him from beating Thomas on the same route twice.

Martin-Manley's frame doesn't quite compare with that of his fellow Hawkeye receivers. Marvin McNutt is 6-4, 215 pounds, and Keenan Davis is 6-3, 215 pounds.

Good technique can help even the odds, though.

"[Receiver] coach [Erik] Campbell preaches that a lot," Martin-Manley said. "You can beat any guy with technique — no matter how big you are, no matter how small you are."

McNutt said he was "proud" of Martin-Manley's performance against Pitt, an opinion Davis shares.

"That's a young guy right there, and he's family," Davis said. "To see somebody grow up like that, it's phenomenal. You're going to see a lot more of Kevonte."

All signs seem to agree with Davis' prediction. Martin-Manley caught six passes against Louisiana-Monroe, the most in his brief career. Campbell isn't the only one to credit for his early contributions, though.

Martin-Manley said his more veteran teammates have been instrumental in his development along the way, particularly McNutt.

"I look at those guys," Martin-Manley said. "I watch how Marvin approaches the game. His technique. He knows a lot about the system, so I can go to him for any questions I have. What to do here, protections, routes, techniques, releases."

Despite Martin-Manley's numbers thus far — 14 catches for 181 yards and three touchdowns — there is still a hint of anxiousness in his voice. An anxiousness to get back on the field and produce more big plays.

"I feel I've made a few plays for us. I've helped us win, I'm doing my job, but I'm always looking to improve," Martin-Manley said. "I'm never satisfied with myself."

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