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Harty: Hawks hurting at receiver

[ 0 ] January 27, 2013 |

If this past 4-8 season wasn’t enough to inspire the receivers on the Iowa football team to get better, they should take notice of what’s happening with recruiting.

The Iowa coaches have made it clear that the receiver position has to be upgraded as evidenced by the 2013 recruiting class and by who they brought in for official visits this weekend.

Iowa already has four recruits in the 2013 class who could play receiver in college and at least four more high school receivers were in town this weekend on visits. That included Brian Lemelle, who is Pennsylvania’s all-time leader in receptions (269) and receiving yards (4,529) for a high school player.

Maryland native Jacquille Veii also visited this weekend and told HawkeyeInsider.com that the Iowa coaches discussed with him the possibility of playing receiver instead of defensive back in college.

“At the beginning of the trip they were talking about cornerback,” said the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Veii. “Now it’s open to receiver or corner. They’re not sure yet.”

Iowa’s performance last fall made it painfully clear that more playmakers were needed at receiver. There were times last season when Iowa made completing a forward pass look next to impossible under new offensive coordinator Greg Davis.

Much of the blame was placed on senior quarterback James Vandenberg, and deservedly so because he performed dreadfully at times.

His receivers weren’t much better, though.

And that was with senior Keenan Davis leading the way at receiver and with Erik Campbell coaching the position.

Davis used up his eligibility this past season, leaving junior-to-be Kevonte Martin-Manley as Iowa’s most experienced receiver. Martin-Manley led Iowa with 52 receptions and 571 receiving yards last season, but he only caught two touchdown passes.

Campbell also reportedly has resigned as the Iowa receivers coach, although it hasn’t been confirmed.

Besides finishing the season with six consecutive losses, the number seven might be what fans remember most about the 2012 season because that’s the number of touchdown passes that Iowa had with Vandenberg taking every snap behind center.

It was a startling decline from the 2011 season when Vandenberg completed 25 touchdown passes under previous offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe.

It was also a cry for help on the recruiting trail.

Davis warned that trouble might lie ahead when he told the media shortly after being hired that more speed was needed at the receiver positions. His offense depends on shifty slot receivers to gain yards after catching short passes, but there weren’t enough of them on Iowa’s roster last season.

There could be as many as seven receivers in Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class if all the ones who visited this weekend ultimately sign with the Hawkeyes. The national signing period will start Feb. 6.

Defensive back Desmond King from Detroit is the latest addition to Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class. He committed Sunday morning while on his official visit and is believed to be the 16th player in Iowa’s 2013 class.

None of the receivers who visited this weekend had committed as of late Sunday afternoon.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Lemelle is expected to visit Temple next weekend before choosing between the Owls, Iowa and Connecticut. He appears to be the kind of shifty receiver that Davis supposedly wants for his offense.

Somebody always seems to get hurt in recruiting.

Iowa suffered when another defensive back from Detroit, Delano Hill, backed out of his commitment and picked Michigan in mid-December.

Ball State suffered when King backed out of his commitment to be a Hawkeye. King committed to Ball State in late August, but now is the latest in a growing list of recruits who de-committed from a Mid-American Conference school to play for Iowa.

King intercepted 29 passes in high school, which is a state record in Michigan.

So who knows, maybe he’ll end up playing receiver at Iowa because he can obviously catch.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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