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Iowa adding pile of wide receivers

[ 0 ] February 5, 2013 |

Iowa ranked 99th in the nation this past fall in passing yards per game (181.75) and its 7 passing touchdowns was the third-worst total among 120 FBS programs.

“Guys that could score touchdowns would be a good thing,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of his recruiting wish list after the season ended. “We’ve got a couple, so if we could get some more, that would be great.”

As of Tuesday afternoon Iowa was set to sign five receivers in its 2013 recruiting class — Anjeus Jones from Dallas; Damond Powell, from Snow Junior College in Ephraim, Utah; Andrew Harris from Kirkwood, Mo.; Derrick Willies from Rock Island, Ill.; and Derrick Mitchell from St. Louis.

“They want me to be able to contribute early if I can,” Jones said. “I can if I put in the work.”

In addition, RB Akrum Wadley (5-11, 170) of Newark, N.J., could be a slot receiver, Scout.com recruiting analyst Rob Howe (HawkeyeInsider.com) said.

“They are trying to add a different kind of receiver,” Howe said. “From what you saw with (offensive coordinator) Greg Davis last year, they are looking for guys that can catch short passes and make plays with the ball in their hands. … Yards after catch.

“Quicker, smaller and can make plays in the open field. They didn’t have that on the roster, it didn’t seem.”

Iowa went 4-8 last season. And Iowa says goodbye to senior wide receiver Keenan Davis, who caught 47 passes for a team-high 571 yards. It is the third-straight season Iowa has graduated its top wide receiver — Derrell Johnson-Koulianos after the 2010 season, and Marvin McNutt after the 2011 season.

Iowa does return junior slot receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley (52 catches, 571 yards), as well as junior Jordan Cotton, who had 12 catches for 172 yards (a team-best 14.3 yards per catch).

No other returning wide receiver had more than six catches.

And Iowa also said goodbye to receivers coach Erik Campbell, who left to pursue other opportunities; it officially was announced by Ferentz this week.

Iowa brought in three receivers last season — Smith, Greg Mabin and Cameron Wilson.

“It’s a high number,” Howe said of the five WR recruits. “To sign that many receivers in back-to-back classes is very unusual.”

Jones, who previously was committed to Colorado State and flipped last week, said he was excited about competing.

“That’s what football is,” Jones said. “I’m willing to work hard and do what it takes.”

Second-year offensive coordinator Davis talked several times last fall about speed on the outside, and Iowa’s lack of it.

Four of the receivers Iowa is signing are 2-star recruits. Mitchell is a 3-star.

Harris reportedly runs a 4.44 40-yard dash. Jones a 4.49.

Grayshirt Matthew VandeBerg — from Brandon, S.D. — runs a 4.4. Ferentz knows speed can be an issue. He feels confident adding football players and not statistics.

“We’ve played some quote unquote fast teams in bowls and beaten them,” Ferentz said. “But we lost in the combine, and we were able to beat them on the field.”

Powell, caught 41 passes for 1,231 yards (30.0 yard average per catch) and 14 touchdowns this season for Snow College. He said he ran a 4.39.

“Iowa wants someone to shift the field,” Jones said. “And bring athleticism to the field.”

In addition to VandeBerg, Iowa also will add Connor Keane, a preferred walk-on from St. Paul, Minn. That brings the total number of new receivers coming into camp this fall to seven. Some of the defensive backs and athletes in the class could be switched still, as well.

“Hard to say if there’s an impact receiver in this group yet,” Howe said. “That’ll be told in August camp.”

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

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