Iowa needs wide receivers and Kevonte Martin-Manley is in position to lend a hand. It remains to be seen if he will.
Iowa has a bona fide No. 1 in senior Marvin McNutt. Junior Keenan Davis is the logical No. 2, but his biggest statement as a Hawkeye was a phenomenal effort in the last spring practice. Then, you have Martin-Manley, a 6-0, 200-pounder, and sophomore Don Shumpert.
That’s the likely four, with junior walk-on Steven Staggs and redshirt freshman walk-on Blake Haluska perhaps knocking on the door.
The Nos. 1 and 2 wide receivers are rarely separated by more than 10 receptions at Iowa and they usually range 40 to 50 receptions. No. 3 gets in the neighborhood of 20 to 25, considering the health of Iowa’s running game. No. 4, in “Glengarry Glen Ross” parlance, gets steak knives, which in Iowa football means a catch or two against Tennessee Tech.
Someone’s catching passes and someone else is getting steak knives.
Three most interesting bio items a year in . . . 1) Holds school (Brother Rice, Detroit) records for receiving yards in a game (177), punt return yards in a game (103), career touchdown receptions (20), longest reception (93) and career receiving yards (1,525); 2) earned Outstanding Academic Award for math and English; 3) had 43 receptions for 745 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior, along with 14 KO returns for 314 yards and 12 punt returns for 199 yards.
Key quote . . . Offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe: “Well, right now he’s the guy that’s getting a lot of reps. But he’s got a long way to go. He’s a work in progress. He’s No. 1, he has to nail the system down. He doesn’t have that down right now and he has to work to get that down first so that he can operate at full speed, because receivers have to operate at full speed. If you don’t know the system, you don’t know the protections and the hots and the sights and things like that; you’ll be going half speed all the time or running the wrong routes.
“So No. 1, he’s got to get the system down before we can even talk about any of the other stuff that you were talking about. But he is tough, and he has great desire to excel and he does have skill. He does have skill.”
Standing after spring . . . Martin-Manley looked to have a slight edge at the No. 3, ahead of Shumpert and holding off Staggs and Haluska. What O’Keefe said about operating at full speed has to be taken seriously. If KMM is doing too much thinking, he’s not going to scare any defensive backs. His feet will be stuck and he won’t be explosive. But if it’s there — and by August, it probably should be — Iowa might have something.
KMM is put together, in more of a slot receiver way, where he’ll line up for the Hawkeyes (the “Z”). You’d think he’d be able to make plays in traffic. He’s positioned well as the No. 2 behind Davis. He has a better chance there than as the No. 2 behind McNutt.