Marvin McNutt finished his career as arguably the best receiver in Hawkeye history with 82 catches for 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Junior receiver Keenan Davis enjoyed his finest season as well, catching 50 passes for 713 yards with four touchdowns.
McNutt has moved on, and now Davis is the alpha male of the receiving corps.
“Being the oldest guy, the most experienced guy, I’ve got to come out and be a leader,” Davis said. “It’s the role you have to take when you’ve played the most.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz sees a progression with Davis that indicates the best is yet to come. Davis had just 11 catches for 131 yards as a sophomore.
“He needs to take that next step,” Ferentz said. “He’s capable. He did a lot of good things last year, so now it’s a chance to build on what he got started.”
The advantage Davis may have in trying to fill McNutt’s shoes might be Greg Davis, Iowa’s new offensive coordinator.
Keenan Davis said the new offensive system has been easy for him to pick up because it is similar to what he ran at Cedar Rapids Washington.
He called the new offense “a little more comfortable and a little more exciting.”
“Play football and have fun,” Davis said of the new feeling this spring. “Take advantage of mismatches. This year’s a little more exciting because we’re new.
“Maybe this is going to give us a little more ‘umphf’ and excitement. A little change is always good.”
Iowa won’t just miss McNutt because of the quantity of his work, but the quality.
Of the 27 plays of 25-plus yards the Hawkeyes had last season, 15 were catches by McNutt. Six others were runs by Marcus Coker (who also won’t be back).
Davis is the top returning big-play guy. He had
“Last year, Marvin was clearly our best receiver,” Ferentz said. “He demonstrated that the last couple years. So we’re hopeful other guys will take that same path and progression.”
Davis is getting used to being the ‘X’ receiver in the scheme. That means more 1-on-1 situations on the outside, something that might be useful for the 6-foot-3 receiver.
He knows he will be counted on to make those big catches, as well as the ones that move the sticks.
“To be great is to go every play,” Davis said. “If you can go every play, you can be a good one.”
Despite only losing McNutt, the depth chart behind Davis is unsettled. Kevonte Martin-Manley caught 30 passes for 323 yards as a redshirt freshman. After that, there’s uncertainty.
Much like last spring when McNutt was being counted on to fill in for Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and there was a lot of unproven players behind him.
“Competition is always a big thing,” Davis said. “We’re really young, and the competition is as stiff as it’s been here.”
For Davis, a national recruit back in 2009 who played as a true freshman, the clock is running out on his college career.
“The coaches say it’s going to go faster than you think,” Davis said. “It feels like yesterday I was a freshman walking in here.
“That’s why you have to pay attention to details.”
Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football