Kelton Copeland Pleased with Development at Receiver

December 17, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – When Kelton Copeland took over as Iowa’s receiver coach almost two years ago, one thing was clear – he had his work cut out for him. To his credit, things have progressed.

Junior college transfer Nick Easley recorded 95 receptions during the last two seasons. True sophomore Brandon Smith raised his total from three catches in ’17 to 25 this fall, while classmate Ihmir Smith-Marsette contributed 37 grabs in two years.

While the Hawkeyes will have to replace Easley and Kyle Groeneweg after the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl, Copeland has been building depth at the position that should make that task easier. Max Cooper worked behind Easley for two years, while true freshmen Tyrone Tracy and Nico Ragaini saw the field this season. Their classmate, Calvin Lockett, overcame an early injury and put in work.

“Tyrone Tracy and Nico Ragaini are incoming freshmen that showed some things. We saw some huge benefits from having these guys play,” Copeland said.

A new rule allowing players to participate in up to four games while still retaining a redshirt worked to the Hawkeyes advantage. Tracy and Ragaini stayed under that threshold, and would remain under it even if they played in the bowl game, which Copeland said was likely.

Iowa is looking for signs that somebody is willing to take over the slot spot from Easley. It could be Cooper. It could be Tracy. It could be Ragaini. It could be someone else.

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“That will be a big conversation, I’m sure. I’m sure they’ll all be lobbying,” Copeland said. “The good news is we have options. Just mixing and matching and putting our best product on the field next year will be huge for us. But we have options, and we have very good options.”

Smith and Smith-Marsette improved as all-around receivers this season.

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“(Smith-Marsette) has come a long way, not only physically what we see on the field, but what people don’t see behind the scenes, just the maturity of handling the day-to-day operation,” Copeland said.

“Brandon Smith, it’s not about being the biggest and the fastest and the strongest, there’s a lot of details, fundamentals and technique that have to be worked on and brought onto the field and he has done that.”

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Watch the position coach talk more about those guys, Lockett and others in this HN TV video:

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