June 21, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Being on the sidelines, away from the game, makes the heart grow fonder. After missing spring practices, University of Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt is ready to get his senior season underway.
McNutt, the team’s top returning receiver with 53 catches for 861 yards and eight touchdowns, missed spring ball after recovering from shoulder and thumb surgeries. Tomorrow, he will return to the field in seven-on-seven drills with his UI teammates.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to line up across from (Shaun) Prater and those guys as a unit, structured,” said McNutt while meeting with reporters outside the Hayden Fry Football Complex Tuesday afternoon.
“I am definitely looking forward to seeing some of the guys we haven’t seen too much of since we work out at different times. It’s something you look forward to during the summer is getting back out there with all your teammates.”
McNutt flirted with the possibility of not returning to Iowa City with his teammates at all, as he juggled the idea of declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft. In the end, he opted to return to the UI for his senior sesaon and to work on gaining his college diploma.
“It went down to the wire,” said McNutt of his decision to remain in school rather than declare as a junior. “It was something me and my family sat down and discussed, and it came down to me coming back to graduate and playing with my teammates and for my coaches.”
In returning for his senior season, McNutt will be counted on to be one of the offense’s top playmakers. He accounts for nearly 70 percent of the receptions of the returning players. Junior Keenan Davis has the second most receptions for Hawkeye returnees, hauling in 11 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown in 2010.
With that being said, McNutt knows that he will be the focal point for opposing defenses, facing double and sometimes triple teams. He, however, is confident in his teammates and his fellow wide receiving corps to step up to the challenge.
“If they triple team me, Keenan definitely will be open,” said McNutt with a laugh. “Everybody has an important role with this team. We don’t just put it on the young guys, everybody can step up. Everyone has to be ready at any moment because you never know what could happen.”
For the first time in his career as a wide receiver, McNutt will have someone other than Ricky Stanzi as his full-time starting quarterback. James Vandenberg is the leading candidate to replace Stanzi under center, and McNutt has all the confidence in the world with the redshirt junior.
“There are definitely no concerns I have with James Vandenberg,” said McNutt. “We’re going to ride his back just as we did Rick’s, and we’re going to be there for him whenever he needs us.”
With the Hawkeyes losing 12 starters (six offense, six defense) from the squad that won the Insight Bowl, Iowa doesn’t face the same expectations as it has in prior seasons. That doesn’t phase McNutt one bit.
“We don’t really care about expectations,” he said. “We know they don’t really mean anything. They’re not relevant until the end of our season. Really, what we have to work on is what we can do to improve our execution during the game. That’s our main focal point.”