Iowa Appeals to St. Louis Talent

Dec. 25, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

TEMPE, Ariz. — Three players that are listed on the University of Iowa pre-Insight Bowl depth chart hail from St. Louis. That makes the postseason matchup between the Hawkeyes and No. 14 Missouri — a game in the making for a century — even more special.

The Iowa program has had success recruiting south of its border and into Missouri, especially in the Gateway City. Current examples are senior All-American defensive end Adrian Clayborn (Webster Groves), redshirt junior wide receiver Marvin McNutt (Hazelwood Central) and true freshman linebacker Christian Kirksey (Hazelwood East). Other Missourians on the Hawkeye roster are senior wide receiver/kick returner Paul Chaney, Jr. (University) and true freshman wide receiver Don Shumpert (Hazelwood East).

“Everybody in the state is going to watch (the Insight Bowl), so you don’t want to be the guy who didn’t do so well,” said McNutt, Iowa’s leading receiver with 51 catches for 798 yards and eight touchdowns. “In my case, the running back there (De’Vion Moore) and I talked. We said we were going to compete against each other in a bowl game. It’s kind of funny it happened this way.”

Like McNutt, Moore is a redshirt junior. Both are from St. Louis, with Moore graduating from Hazelwood Central. He is the leading rusher for Missouri (485 yards, eight touchdowns).

McNutt’s college decision came down to Iowa and Missouri with the Hawkeyes getting the edge because of its family atmosphere.

“After my visit to Iowa, I felt that was where I would be most-needed,” McNutt said.

The sport of baseball has utility players; the Iowa football program has Chaney. The track sprinting star has six rush attempts for 53 yards this season, a pass reception for 15 yards, four punt returns and one kickoff return. Chaney has extra motivation to do well in the Insight Bowl: he was disappointed in the interest the Tigers showed him during the recruiting process.

“You always want to be able to go home and say you’re the better team,” Chaney said. “They didn’t really recruit me that well, either, so that’s another motivating factor going into this game.”

Chaney is one of the premiere sprinters in the Big Ten Conference, anchoring the Hawkeyes to the 400-meter title at the Drake Relays in 2009. He missed the 2010 track season while rehabbing an ACL repair.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision at all,” Chaney said of choosing Iowa over the Tigers. “When I came here, the coaches reassured me I could also run track and that was one of my top priorities, so that’s what made the choice easy.”

Clayborn’s final three college options were Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa, but to him, the Insight Bowl is just another game.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “I know a couple guys on their team and we’ll probably talk a little bit during the game. But it’s not a big deal to me at least.”

UI head coach Kirk Ferentz has been around long enough to know about his student-athletes playing “home-state teams.” In many cases, the issue is finding enough tickets for friends and family when returning to the home venue. That will not be an issue at the Insight Bowl.

“Typically any time we play in a region when it’s a home state it has added significance,” Ferentz said. “We haven’t played Missouri (in 100 years) and we don’t have anybody that old. Sometimes it can be a ticket issue, but it won’t be for this — bowl games are bowl games. If we were playing at Missouri, then it might have been a ticket issue for those guys, too.”

Missouri has one Iowan in its starting lineup — junior right tackle Dan Hoch from Harlan. He became the first true freshman offensive lineman to play for head coach Gary Pinkel in 2008. Tiger sophomore defensive end Aldon Smith spent a few years as Hawkeye Keenan Davis’s teammate at Cedar Rapids Washington before moving to Raytown, Mo. Smith has 17 career sacks.