Martin-Manley ready to be Iowa's go-to receiver


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AMES — Iowa wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley gets a lot of attention for his speed on the football field.

But when it came time for him and his teammates to race toward the Cy-Hawk trophy that sat on Iowa State’s sideline after Saturday night’s 27-21 victory, he was beaten by Brandon Scherff and his fellow offensive linemen.

“We sent Kevonte in the wrong direction,” Scherff said and laughed. “He went off a little left, and [the offensive line] went straight.”

But Martin-Manley wasn’t too embarrassed or upset with the mistake — his teammates were just intimidated by his speed.

[“Scherff] told me [the trophy] was in a different direction,” Martin-Manley said Saturday. “He knew he couldn’t beat me in a foot race, so he had to lie to me. But it’s all good.”

In Iowa’s corps of young wide receivers, Martin-Manley is quickly becoming Rudock’s favorite — and most reliable — target. The Pontiac, Mich., native hauled in seven catches for 60 yards and one touchdown on Saturday.

“I feel comfortable with him,” Rudock said. “… I feel comfortable with all our receivers. I think he does a good job of getting open. If he does a good job of getting open, and if I can see him, I’m going to get him the ball.”

With 12:09 remaining in the second quarter, Rudock faked out the defense with play action, rolled out to the left of the field, and found Martin-Manley streaking to the left side of the end zone, well in front of his defender. Upon seeing the completion, Rudock ran to bump chests with his favorite wide receiver, followed by a hug and pat on the helmet.

“It was a big burden off of our shoulders,” Martin-Manley said about the touchdown that gave the Hawkeyes a 7-0 lead in the second quarter. “The receivers like to have a competition over getting in the end zone. But more importantly, we put points on the board, and it helped us win.”

With Martin-Manley being the most experienced of the wide receivers, he’s also becoming a vocal leader for the young group. When they drop passes, as they’ve been apt to do in the first three games of the season, Martin-Manley is the one that tells them how to improve through constructive criticism.

“I’m really hard on them, because I know they’re better than when they drop balls — I’ve seen them make plays in practice,” Martin-Manley said. “I get after them in a positive, constructive way, and they respond well.”

While the wideout has shown consistency with catches on every down, third down was the charm against the Cyclones on Sept. 14. Martin-Manley converted on a crucial third and 8 in the third quarter for an 18-yard gain that set up a 26-yard touchdown pass from Rudock to wideout Jacob Hillyer.

“When you convert third downs, you’re moving the ball, and you’re giving your team more opportunities to score,” Martin-Manley said.

It doesn’t matter to the junior how many times Rudock throws him the ball. He’s more concerned with his quarterback making the proper reads and throwing the ball to the open receiver, wherever and whoever it may be.

“I just let [Rudock] do him, and just make sure I’m open and doing my job,” he said.

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