Wide outs set for big time 2010
by, 08-18-2010 at 08:58 AM (1796 Views)
A lot of attention has been paid to the stable of Hawkeye running backs since fall camp opened up. And rightfully so with all the news, or lack thereof, and speculation about who’s, well, let’s not get into it.
But what figures to be just as big of a part of the offense for the Hawkeyes in 2010 could also make a very strong argument at being the most talented group in Iowa history – the receiving corps.
A quick look:
— Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is the smart bet to overtake Tim Dwight atop Iowa’s all-time receiving list, and could become the first-ever player to lead the team in receiving all four years.Counting the fact the Iowa offense rarely splits out more than three wide, that’s about as deep of a group as one will find. And with an accurate quarterback that has started 22 games under center ready to fire away, the group could eclipse the big numbers Drew Tate and company put up during the 2005 campaign. The Hawkeyes racked up 2,887 yards through the air last fall — the most since that 2005 squad threw for 3,118.
— Marvin McNutt has played the position for just two years of his life, but grabbed eight touchdowns in 2009 — good for fourth best on the single season list. And he did it as a sophomore in his first season playing full time.
— Co-starter Colin Sandeman has shown flashes of great hands and run-after-catch ability, which could be why head coach Kirk Ferentz trusts him back returning punts.
— Keenan Davis may possess the most upside and NFL potential of them all with a 6’3” 215-pound frame, and now has a year of on-field experience entering his sophomore year.
— Paul Chaney Jr. has battled his fair share of injuries, but the track star owns a specific skill set featuring speed and quickness that could fit in well with the big time playmakers around him.
— Freshman Jordan Cotton was one of the top playmakers in the entire state as a prep and senior Don Nordmann has displayed terrific hands in practice situations and could see the field.
Diving into the numbers a bit more shows just what these guys have already accomplished catching the ball – particularly DJK. The senior has already joined Dwight (1994-97) and Jim Gibbons (1955-57) as the only Hawkeyes to lead the team in receiving for three years after catching 45 balls for 750 yards in 2009.
Not bad for someone with a notorious history of consistently being in the coach’s doghouse.
DJK has also eclipsed the 1,000-total yard mark all three of his seasons wearing black and gold and finds himself on preseason watch lists for the Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player) with 48 others in the country and the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver) with 51 others.
McNutt caught 34 balls for 674 yards last season on his way to the big touchdown numbers, and now should draw a bit more attention from opposing defenses to open up the field for his fellow pass catchers.
Looking past box scores reveals another part of a wide out’s game — blocking — that often gets overlooked, but may be just as important as its receiving numbers. The group helped two running backs set Iowa freshman records for yards and touchdowns a year ago.
DJK may be the most talented in this regard as well and can often be seen paving the way downfield. He is frequently regarded as the strongest pound-for-pound player on the team after reportedly completing a team-high 38 pull-ups during team strength testing.
McNutt also uses his 6’4” 215-pound body to his advantage while Sandeman has three years of coaching under his belt as a senior.
Speaking of coaching, a lot of the credit for what this group has already done on the field has to be directed toward receiver’s coach Erik Campbell. Soup came in with stellar credentials when he was hired before the 2008 season and was somewhat looked upon to turn the receiving corps into an elite group.
Now entering his third season on the sideline, the results have started to speak for themselves.
What I think — There’s not much question in my mind that, overall, this is the best receiving group Iowa has had under Ferentz, and possibly ever (although my Hawkeye history knowledge doesn’t go back too much further). The 2002 group of C.J. Jones, Mo Brown and freshmen Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon could be close simply because of the monster numbers they put up, but I would take the 2009 assembly in a heart beat.
DJK is a baller, but I’m also looking at Keenan Davis to really make a giant freshman-to-sophomore leap. Physically, it’s clear he has the tangible tools, and with practice comments saying how much the game has “slowed down” for him, I’m excited to see his production speed up.