Leading the Way

April 14, 2014


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 — The University of Iowa football team has a number of young, talented wide receivers in 2014, but senior Kevonte Martin-Manley is the anchor.

Martin-Manley (6-foot-0, 205) is the lone Hawkeye receiver who has been around the program for four seasons. He has been a starter in each of his first three years, amassing 122 receptions for 1,282 yards, including a team-best 40 catches for 388 yards last season.

Having a youthful group of receivers has thrust Martin-Manley into a leadership role — something he is embracing.

“We have a lot of young guys in this group,” said Martin-Manley. “As a fifth-year senior, I’m taking on that leadership role. I have to step up and do that.”

Junior wide receiver Tevaun Smith says Martin-Manley has had a big impact on the entire receiving corps.

“We all need to get better, and he’s one of the guys we look up to,” said Smith. “He’s one of the most consistent receivers, so we emulate what he does in practice. He makes us better.”

Martin-Manley is consistent, catching at least one pass in 29 of the last 30 games, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t working on his game.

“I’m refining my craft every day,” Martin-Manley said. “I’m working on my route running, maintaining concentration and focus, and making sure I’m catching all the balls that come my way.”

Bobby Kennedy, who enters his second season as Iowa’s wide receivers coach, says Martin-Manley is continuing to develop his game.

“Kevonte is a relentless worker,” said Kennedy. “The thing that makes him good is what he does Monday through Friday, because he works so hard. Kevonte’s a guy I can see continuing to improve, continuing to work, and he can be as good as he wants to be. The game has slowed down for him, and he’s seeing the game better.

“I tell the younger guys that they should watch the way (Kevonte) works and the way he competes. He’s a great leader for our group.”

Martin-Manley, who has been voted to the team’s leadership group each of the last two seasons, enters his senior campaign needing 52 catches to establishment a school record for career receptions. Martin-Manley said once the Outback Bowl was over in January he knew he was about to embark on his final season in the Black and Gold.

“I have to approach this season with the same mindset every day, which is to come in and work hard and strive to improve,” said Martin-Manley. “This year isn’t any different than any of the others. I’ve treated every year like it was my last. You have to take that approach if you want to be a great player.”

The Hawkeyes will close out spring practices by hosting the Spring Game in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, April 26, at 2 p.m. (CT).