IOWA CITY, Ia. — Wide receiver Tevaun Smith is best remembered for one play. A very big play.
The Hawkeyes were trailing Michigan 21-7 at halftime of last November’s game at Kinnick Stadium.
On Iowa’s first series of the third quarter, Smith made an acrobatic one-handed catch of a Jake Rudock pass and dodged several would-be Wolverine defenders for a 55-yard touchdown run. That sparked the Hawkeyes to a 24-21 victory and was a huge factor in Iowa passing Michigan for the bid to the Outback Bowl.
“I’ve watched (that play) a few times,” said Smith, a junior and Iowa’s starter at wide receiver. “But I’m looking past that now. I’m trying to make a lot more plays this year. And I’m hoping as an offense we can make plays with the receivers we’ve got.”
Wide receiver, not a position of strength in recent years, is looking deeper and potentially more productive heading into Saturday’s opener against Northern Iowa at Kinnick Stadium.
Smith is backed up by redshirt freshman Derrick Willies, the spring game sensation hoping to carry that over to real time. Senior Kevonte Martin-Manley starts at another wide receiver spot, with sophomore Matt VandeBerg behind him. And junior Jacob Hillyer mans the other wide receiver spot, backed up by senior Damond Powell. Others, such as redshirt freshman Derrick Mitchell, Jr., are itching to break the two-deeps.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are ready to play,” Smith said. “We have height and speed. We’ve got everything we need. It’s exciting to have a hungry receiving corps.”
Smith said the competition is a positive.
“It definitely makes everyone better every day,” Smith said. “I compare it to being in the NFL. You never know when your job is going to be taken, so everyone is out here working to get better every week and impress the coaches.”
Smith said last season’s touchdown catch against Michigan has given him a lift of confidence heading into a new season.
“I’m hoping to catch the ball and make some plays with my feet,” Smith said. “That’s what I’ve been doing in practice. I hope to bring that out onto the field on gameday.”