Tyrone Tracy knows his numbers weren’t as impressive in the 2020 season.
His consistent attitude, a challenge-me approach that has been there since arriving at Iowa, has been impressing his coach.
That, wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland said, is the most important thing.
“He’s just always, always, looking for the next challenge,” Copeland said earlier this week. “A lot of guys say that, and it sounds good, and it gets coaches fired up about them. But I’ll tell you what, this Tyrone Tracy, he’s a man of his word. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. Any capacity that I have challenged him in, he’s not only met the challenge, but he’s exceeded it.”
The wide receiver room has been crowded with playmakers during Tracy’s career, and he said on Tuesday that’s still the case. The difference now is he’s one of the veterans, one of the leaders.
It’s why he accepted last season, when Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette were the primary targets among the receivers. Tracy had just 14 catches for 154 yards and one touchdown in eight games, down from his 2019 production of 36 catches for 589 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games.
Smith was healthy. Smith-Marsette had become even more dynamic. Tracy, a versatile receiver who can play any of the four receiving spots in Iowa’s offense, just didn’t have the opportunities.
“Last season, I had to do a lot of self-talk,” Tracy said. “It was very difficult, because I came off a semi-good year (in 2019). My expectation was to do better than that. Obviously it didn’t go like that. At the end of the day, you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself what are you doing to make the team better. Me complaining and walking around with my head down, having that negative energy, that’s not making the team better overall. Like I said, I had to look in the mirror and do what I could. If that’s blocking a hundred times a game, that’s what I’ve got to do make the team better.”
This spring is something different.
“We did have a lot of playmakers last year. You can’t get mad,” Tracy said. “This year, we still have a lot of playmakers, but I’m at the forefront of leading the group.
“Last year was a bit of a downfall. But I’m not really a stats person. As long as we’re winning, I’m good. My main thing this year is really just leading the whole offense forward. I’m not really worried about my personal stats, my personal awards, anything like that. My first main thing is being a great leader on the team, and on offense, especially in the receiver group. If we have three receivers that are doing good, and I’m not doing good, we’re still in a good spot.”
Tracy is consistently in Copeland’s ear with questions. That, Copeland said, says a lot about Tracy.
“He’s been doing that now for two seasons, two full years,” Copeland said. “That, in itself, says a lot about his eagerness to learn, his athletic ability, which we’ve seen on display multiple times now, but also his football IQ, and his willingness and wanting to take charge.”
Tracy, a junior is No. 1 on the depth chart at one of the wide receiver spots, with junior Nico Ragaini No. 1 at the other spot. Seniors Max Cooper and Charlie Jones are No. 2 at each position.
It’s still a young group of receivers, though. Tracy said Copeland has challenged him to be a leader.
“My main thing this year is really just leading the whole offense forward,” Tracy said. “I’m not really worried about my personal stats, my personal awards, anything like that. My first main thing is being a great leader on the team, and on offense, especially in the receiver group. If we have three receivers that are doing good, and I’m not doing good, we’re still in a good spot.”
“He’s set some pretty high standards, not only for himself, but for the room as well,” Copeland said of Tracy. “I commend him on that.”
The numbers will come for Tracy, even if that’s not his primary goal.
“I know there’s only one ball,” he said. “We have plenty of playmakers on the team. So I know I can’t get the ball every time. I’m going to do what I can to get the ball in my hands.
“This year, obviously my goal is to do better that 13 catches and a hundred yards. Hopefully I can get that in one game. We’ll see where we go.”