McNutt's Most Memorable Play

Aug. 4, 2011

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.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Among Marvin McNutt, Jr.’s, 88 career receptions have been a game-winner and many of the one-handed, acrobatic variety. He is six scores from being the school’s all-time leader, and only three Hawkeyes have more touchdown receptions.

So what is McNutt’s favorite play? Hint: It happened during Iowa’s 27-24 win over No. 12 Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl.

“One of the most important things I remember wasn’t even a catch, it was a block,” McNutt said. “I came across the field and hit a guy pretty good on Marcus’ touchdown, and it excited me. That’s the only thing I could talk about after the game.”

Iowa held a 7-3 edge four plays into the second quarter. The Hawkeyes faced second-and-four from their 38 when Coker sprinted through an opening on the right side. As he neared the Missouri 40-yard line, Tiger free safety Jarre Harrison moved in from Coker’s right. Moments later, Harrison was laying back down, cleats up on the Sun Devil Stadium turf, compliments of a McNutt block. Coker scored, giving Iowa an 11-point advantage.

Still, McNutt is known more for catches than pancakes. He has 16 touchdown receptions; the school record is 21 by Tim Dwight and Danan Hughes.

“There’s always somebody who is going to step up and do things. It might take a little time to get going, but we’ll be fine.”
UI wide receiver
Marvin McNutt, Jr.

“Setting the record would be a great accomplishment,” McNutt said. “To do anything to be part of a rich tradition here at Iowa and to be as close as I am right now is a great accomplishment. I’m not after the record, but if I do get it, that would be huge.”

As a freshman in 2008, McNutt had as many completed passes as a back-up quarterback (one) as he had pass receptions. The next season — after moving to receiver full-time — he corralled 34 passes for 674 yards (19.8 average) and eight touchdowns. McNutt was named second team all-Big Ten as a junior after catching a team-high 53 passes for 861 yards and eight more scores.

Throwing those balls a year ago was Ricky Stanzi, and he is now with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. Junior James Vandenberg — with 95 career attempts — is stepping in.

“As receivers we have a job. James is a smart kid,” McNutt said. “We all feed off each other and when we work together as a group, somebody will get open. That’s the main goal. It’s good to keep the ball moving around.”

Vandenberg will no doubt focus on frequently finding the 6-foot-4, 215-pound McNutt until he becomes comfortable with a new collection of Hawkeye receivers. Nine players who combined for 148 grabs and 17 touchdowns a year ago are not on the 2011 roster. That’s 65 percent of the catches and touchdown catches, and 61 percent of the receiving yardage.

But a player like sophomore tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz has yet to catch a pass, and redshirt freshman receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley has yet to play a game.

“There’s always somebody who is going to step up and do things,” McNutt said. “It might take a little time to get going, but we’ll be fine.”

And even though the block in the Insight Bowl is on the top of McNutt’s playlist, he acknowledges some of his favorite catches: a 7-yard game-winner at Michigan State in 2009, a 4-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring in the 2010 Orange Bowl, and a 92-yard scoring play against Indiana on Halloween, 2009.

“Those were fun catches,” McNutt said. “Any time you score a touchdown is awesome, and to catch the ball over somebody or to run a good route — you look back and remember those.”

You will hear more from McNutt — as well as the rest of the Hawkeye players and coaches — at media day on Friday. UI head coach Kirk Ferentz speaks at 1:30 p.m. (CT); Hawkeye assistant coaches and players will be available from 2-4.