Schwartz: No Place Like Home

June 13, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

Sometimes what we’re looking for requires a journey, whether of distance or the soul.

Sometimes, it was in front of us the whole time, even if we didn’t see it right away.

Iowa City’s Oliver Martin first had to become a Wolverine to realize he wanted to be a Hawkeye. The wide receiver, who will transfer to Iowa, is coming home.

Martin might be successful as a Hawkeye. He might not be. But that’s irrelevant – at least at the moment – because before one can endeavor one must find the right frame of mind. Hopefully, a return to Iowa City will give Martin the support he needs to figure out what’s next academically and athletically.

From there, as fans we can start to daydream what he might mean to Iowa’s offense. The list of memorable, high-impact wide receivers during the Kirk Ferentz era is, to put it nicely, short:

Marvin McNutt, DJK, Kevin Kasper, CJ Jones, plus a handful of others that we could argue about whether they fit under the heading of “high impact.”

Generally, Hawkeye receivers have been expertly reliable (Kevonte Martin Manley) or had potential (Keenan Davis) or worked hard to become “really good” (Ed Hinkel, Tevaun Smith). But great? That’s a word in Iowa City generally reserved for tight ends.

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It’s too soon to know how well Martin will fit in. At this point, we don’t even know when the NCAA will let him suit up for the Hawkeyes. Whenever he does play, he’ll be a valuable addition no matter how the Hawkeyes decide to use him. Iowa could always use another good set of hands.

The other interesting part of Martin’s arrival is his locality. In sports, whether professional or college, there’s something special to a fan base about local talent playing for their hometown team.

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Think of Fred Hoiberg playing for Iowa State or of the Cleveland Cavaliers drafting LeBron James, who grew up just 45 minutes down the road in Akron. Pete Rose was born in Cincinnati. Lisa Leslie went to high school in Los Angeles, went to USC, and played for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

In the Hawkeye universe, it rarely gets more notable than Tim Dwight, the Iowa City native and City High graduate who starred for the Hawkeyes before playing in the NFL. Dwight tops a list of Iowa City and/or Coralville Hawkeyes that includes, but is not limited to: Jackie and Nate Kaeding (soccer and football, respectively); Glen Worley (men’s basketball); Ally Disterhoft (women’s basketball, and the program’s all-time leading scorer until Megan Gustafson obliterated the mark); and Irving B. Weber (swimming).

For a time it seemed like Martin was more on AJ Derby’s trajectory than Dwight’s or Worley’s. Derby, a City High grad, briefly committed to play football for the Hawkeyes before transferring to Arkansas.

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Martin, formerly of Iowa City West, has returned. More than anything, we hope he’s at peace with the decision. Sure, we hope he’s a great player. We hope he catches 70 balls a season, contributes to a Hawkeye national championship, and spends a handful of seasons getting paid—not concussed—in the NFL. Yet more than anything, we just hope that he’s happier.

Happy with his decision. Happy with his new university. Happy with his new team.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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