McNutt Named Big Ten's Top Receiver

Nov. 28, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Marvin McNutt, Sr., gave some lasting advice to Marvin McNutt, Jr.: Be a leader, not a follower.

The younger McNutt listened, stayed at the University of Iowa — even when his dream of playing quarterback was crushed — and he will now go down as one of the greatest receivers in Big Ten Conference history.

On Monday, McNutt was named the league’s Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year. In eight Big Ten games this season, McNutt caught 53 passes for 856 yards and eight touchdowns. He led the conference in receiving yards, receiving yards per game (107) and tied B.J. Cunningham of Michigan State with eight touchdown receptions.

“For the younger kids looking at this, just because someone tells you you can’t do something doesn’t mean there isn’t a path to where you want to get,” McNutt said. “I give all the credit to my teammates, especially (quarterback) James (Vandenberg), the offensive line, (running back Marcus) Coker and the other receivers doing their jobs. I couldn’t get to this point without them.”

With the four nonconference games added, McNutt has 78 receptions for 1,269 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is first in UI history in receiving yards in a season and career (2,815) as well as receiving touchdowns in a season and career (28).

“I try not to focus on the individual records since we still have a (bowl) game left,” McNutt said. “It’s definitely a great honor, especially with some of the names I passed in the record book. They’re great guys and great Hawkeyes, and they have had NFL careers that stand for themselves as well. It’s a great honor to be a part of it.”

The totals compiled by McNutt already have him eighth in Big Ten history in receiving yards in a season and 10th in career touchdowns. He isn’t the only Erik Campbell-coached receiver on those lists.

“Coach Campbell has an attitude and knows what he’s doing,” McNutt said of his position coach. “He has a list of guys he’s put to the next level as well as a few guys who have the national recognition for being great receivers. Without him I don’t think I would have gotten to this point in my career.”

It didn’t take long for McNutt to buy into becoming the best football player he could be, even if it wasn’t at the position he originally wanted. All he had to do was think back to his father’s advice of never quitting anything.

Then, on Oct. 11, 2008, McNutt caught his first pass during a 45-9 Hawkeye victory at Indiana. He admits that, despite playing for team that won nine games and the Outback Bowl, it was a long season personally. McNutt played in three games and attempted three passes, completing one for three yards, and throwing an interception. He carried the ball once for zero yards. And he caught a pass…thee pass that got it all started.

“My first catch actually made me believe I could do this,” McNutt said. “It was versus Indiana — it was an out route and I reached down and caught the ball. I ended up falling before I could make a move up the sideline, but that moment…”

McNutt is fortunate that each day in practice he faces first-team All-Big Ten cornerback Shaun Prater and second-team All-Big Ten cornerback Micah Hyde.

“Prater was there when I first started, and he never took a day off to try to ease up on me,” McNutt said. “He always went hard and with that attitude, it pushes me to continue to get better. Prater and Micah challenge me every day, and we go out and try to do the best we can to push each other.”

The Hawkeyes (7-5 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) await their postseason fate, which will be announced Sunday, Dec. 4.

“Now we get healthy as well as study film and try to get better as a unit,” McNutt said. “When we know who we’re playing we will focus on that team.”

The Richter-Howard Award is named for Wisconsin’s Pat Richter and Michigan’s Desmond Howard. Richter was a two-time All-American who caught 11 passes for 163 yards in the 1963 Rose Bowl; Howard won the 1991 Heisman Trophy.