3's Company

Sept. 28, 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 — One of the University of Iowa football team’s question marks heading into the 2011 season was the depth at wide receiver. Four games later, a trio — senior Marvin McNutt, Jr., junior Keenan Davis and redshirt freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley — has emerged giving the Hawkeyes a solid answer.

“Coming out of camp, Marvin was really our only proven performer at that position, and he’s continuing to grow and do better,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “Keenan has been here three years, but did not have a lot of production, but we’re pleased with his growth, particularly the last couple of weeks.

“Kevonte was basically invisible… I don’t know how many catches he had in camp, not many. The last couple of weeks he’s coming alive too.”

McNutt has been doing his part. The St. Louis, Mo., native leads the Hawkeyes with 25 receptions for 413 yards and four scores. His 103.2 yards per game average is second in the Big Ten Conference, while his 6.2 catches per contest ranks third.

Last week, McNutt had seven catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the 45-17 win over the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Both touchdown receptions came on fade routes.

“I try to put myself in the best position for Vandy (quarterback James Vandenberg) to throw the ball to,” said McNutt who has 20 career touchdown receptions, one shy of tying the Iowa school record. “As a receiver, you always feel like if you get a one-on-one match-up, you should be able to beat anyone.”

Davis and Martin-Manley have combined for 33 catches for 467 yards and six touchdowns. Davis has 19 receptions for 286 yards with three scores, including a career-best 10 catches for 129 yards against Pittsburgh. Martin-Manley has 14 catches for 181 yards and three scores.

“It’s great to be producing right now,” said Martin-Manley. “Right now as the third option, it’s impossible for defenses to double team two guys. That leaves one of us open, and we can make plays. We’ve done a good job at doing that.”

The trio and Vandenberg are flourishing following Ferentz’s decision to open the flood gates with a no-huddle, shotgun offense.

“We did it a little bit to spark us,” said Vandenberg, who has thrown for 432 yards over the last five quarters. “It is an easy way to get everyone involved quick and get everyone in a rhythm. We have the personnel to do it, out wide and with our lineman. It gives a lot of guys the chance to get the ball and spread it around a little bit.”

Even with the production the Hawkeyes are getting from the receiving corps, McNutt knows the group can continue to improve.

“It’s still a process, and we’re still growing,” he said. “Hopefully we can keep pushing each other and keep getting better.”

The Hawkeyes, who are currently off for their bye week, return to action Oct. 8 in Happy Valley against Penn State in their Big Ten opener. The game will be televised on ABC beginning at 2:36 p.m. (CT).