IOWA CITY, Ia. — Proclaiming to be third best, in Don Shumpert’s case, is a good thing.
With Iowa’s top two receivers likely to be Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley, someone with sturdy hands, big-play potential, and passable playbook knowledge needs to provide an additional option for quarterback James Vandenberg.
“It’s my time,” said Shumpert, a junior whose previous two seasons have mostly been spent on special teams. “I’ll be right there trying to fill that role.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder hasn’t had to make plays before, considering Marvin McNutt, Davis and Martin-Manley were ahead of him and others last season. McNutt’s gone, so who fills out the depth chart?
“That door is wide open,” coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Whoever it is will catch about 34 passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns. That’s based on averages the past four seasons — when the No. 3 receiver was either a wideout or tight end.
Martin-Manley caught 30 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns as No. 3 last season. Allen Reisner caught 42 passes for 460 yards and two touchdowns in that role in 2010, and before that, it was Trey Stross in 2009 and Brandon Myers in 2008.
Shumpert enters the season with no catches while playing receiver in just six games.
“It’s going to be a collective effort,” said Vandenberg, whose senior season opens Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago. “You need more than just two receivers.”
Davis is Iowa’s top returning receiver, and Martin-Manley is next.
“Don was kind of lost out there the first couple days, really didn’t stand out, and then as the spring went on, he got a little bit better,” Ferentz said. “Then you’re hearing feedback during the course of the summer that he was having a good summer, and so far it looks like he’s doing a good job.”
He’s the fastest receiver on the team. Now, all he needs are catches.
“It’s an opportunity,” Ferentz said. “Certainly Kevonte had an outstanding spring, and we’re counting on him to play really well. Keenan has had good production in the Big Ten, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t have a great year as a senior.
“So now we have to supplement that, and the door is wide open both to the guys on the roster right now, guys like Shumpert, (Steven) Staggs, (Jordan) Cotton, players like that, but also younger guys that just came in.”
Whoever ends up No. 3 is likely to see considerable action if the Hawkeyes’ search for a Big Ten-caliber running back turns up empty. If that happens, the more receivers the merrier.
“He’s like a lot of guys,” Vandenberg said of Shumpert. “He just needs a chance.”
Hill injured: Freshman running back Barkley Hill hurt his left leg Saturday during practice. He was carried to a golf cart and taken off the field.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football