By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Hawkeye fans will be delighted if Matt Quarells is as productive as the last University of Iowa receiver from Missouri’s Hazelwood Central High School.
Remember Marvin McNutt?
The quarterback-turned-receiver, who was also from Hazelwood Central, earned three letters at Iowa from 2009-11 and in the process, caught 170 passes for 2,861 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Quarells arrives in Iowa City six years after McNutt played his final collegiate down in the 2011 Insight Bowl. At 6-foot-1, Quarells is two inches shorter than McNutt, but the former high school sprint champion has an edge with blazing speed.
“I knew I was going to Hazelwood Central when I was in sixth grade,” Quarells said. “I used to go up there after school and hang out at the practice facility. I would see Marvin all the time, he kind of knew me through one of my older friends.”
Quarells is the second graduate transfer to join Iowa’s program this season after graduating from New Mexico in three years. He joins running back James Butler, who previously played at Nevada.
New Mexico won the Gildan New Mexico Bowl last season by running the ball 52 times and attempting just four passes. That disparity between run and pass is one reason Quarells began searching for a Pro-Style offense closer to his St. Louis home.
“As a receiver, I want the ball every play,” Quarells said. “I’m excited knowing I will have an opportunity to get the ball more in this balanced, pro-style offense and it will help me moving on to the next level. Of course I have aspirations of going to the NFL and this pro-style offense will get me on the right track.”
In two seasons with the Lobos, Quarells caught 13 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown (15.6 yards per catch average). With speed and sure hands, he is a huge gain waiting to happen.
“I’m trying to find my way right now, but speed is one of my biggest attributes,” Quarells said. “Maybe I can blow the top off some defenses, get behind the safeties, and make big plays.”
Senior Matt VandeBerg has taken Quarells under his wing. VandeBerg is a veteran presence among Iowa’s receiving corps with 106 career receptions.
“I can always go to him for questions,” Quarells said. “Even when I don’t ask him questions, he is looking out for me.”
Quarells is familiar with several Big Ten football programs. He was recruited by many schools in the league until an injury during his senior season.
“The offers kind of dropped,” Quarells said. “That is the way the table turned, but I am happy I finally made it back home.”
It hasn’t taken Quarells long to feel comfortable in Iowa City. He did not participate in the Kids Day scrimmage Aug. 12, but he was amazed at how quickly he was recognized.
“I told my mom I feel the love here with the fan base and the camaraderie of the team,” Quarells said. “The fans welcomed me to Iowa and that let me know they are paying attention and they love Iowa football. I can’t wait to play.”
Quarells is pursuing a master’s degree in sports management and has two seasons of football eligibility.
“I have two years here left and I want make the best of them; help the team win as many games as possible,” Quarells said. “My goals are through the roof and I want to contribute any way I can.”