Sept. 17, 2013
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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 — In the case of University of Iowa junior wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, statistics are a starting point to measure progress.
Unbeknownst to Martin-Manley, he surpassed two milestones Sept. 14 during a 27-21 win at Iowa State in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series. After securing a team-high seven catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, Martin-Manley owns career totals of 101 receptions for 1,057 yards.
“I didn’t know that. I’m out there playing and trying to win, but that’s a pretty good accomplishment,” Martin-Manley said. “I have much more to get.”
Martin-Manley redshirted in 2010. As a freshman in 2011 he caught 30 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns. None of his receptions were bigger than the 25 and 22-yard fourth-quarter touchdown grabs to lead the Hawkeyes to a 31-27 win against Pittsburgh on Sept. 17.
Last season, Martin-Manley led the team with 52 catches for 571 yards and two scores.
So far this year he has led or shared the team lead in receptions all three games, including a career-high nine (for 79 yards) against Northern Illinois. Martin-Manley had three catches for 24 yards against Missouri State and seven more at Iowa State.
Of the seven catches against the Cyclones, five went for a first down and another resulted in the first touchdown of the game. His longest gain was 18 yards that moved the chains late in the third period.
“It started with a good game plan; the coaches prepared us all week,” Martin-Manley said about his performance in Ames. “They knew what was going to be open, and we were able to execute. The line blocked, (quarterback) Jake (Rudock) was able to make some good reads, and I was able to catch it.”
Rudock is in his first season as a starter, and through three games is completing 61.4 percent of his attempts for an average of 203 yards and one touchdown pass per outing. His primary target is Martin-Manley with 19 receptions for 163 yards.
“He is quick and shifty and understands where he has to be,” Rudock said of Martin-Manley. “That’s one of the big things (receivers) coach (Bobby) Kennedy has done — he wants the guys to understand where they need to be at a certain time to make everything go smoothly.”
Things have gone smoothly in 2013 for Martin-Manley, a native of Pontiac, Mich. The fast start to his junior season leaves him with 21 consecutive games with at least one reception. He has also returned three punts for 34 yards (11.3 average).
“Kevonte played his best football game since he has been here,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said of Martin-Manley’s performance at Iowa State. “He did a nice job blocking, as well as coming up with receptions and big plays.”
Martin-Manley has assumed the leadership role among receivers on a team where — in most cases — the most experienced players are paving the way.
When Iowa (2-1 overall) hosts Western Michigan (0-3) on Sept. 21, Martin-Manley will seek a reception for a 22nd consecutive game; the Hawkeyes look for a third straight win.
Those are satisfying statistics to measure.