A CLOSER LOOK AT IOWA’S WIDE RECEIVERS
The Depth Chart
No. 1s – Kevonte Martin-Manley, jr., 6-0, 205; Don Shumpert, sr., 6-3, 200; Damon Bullock, jr., 6-0, 200. No. 2s – Damond Powell, jr., 5-11, 180; Tevaun Smith, so., 6-2, 200; Jordan Cotton, sr., 6-1, 192.
The depth chart is probably a rough outline at this point. You’d have to say junior Kevonte Martin-Manley will be a target. Can senior Don Shumpert stick with the top group? He’s been a promising athlete for three years now. He disappeared after a crucial fourth-down drop against Iowa State last season. He’s back with the 1s. We’ll see if he sticks. Damon Bullock still calls himself a running back, but he played a lot of WR in the open scrimmage. He also lines up in a lot WR drills. So . . . he’s a little of both. Junior Damond Powell and sophomore Tevaun Smith showed explosive playmaking ability in Iowa’s scrimmage last weekend. You don’t know where the consistency is, but most of the players polled Saturday night said they’ve seen that from both during camp. Senior Jordan Cotton hasn’t been a spotlighted wide receiver during his career. He’s probably looking at a “little here and there” again this season, but don’t discount the speed factor he brings.
The No. 2s
Redshirt freshman walk-on Riley McCarron seems to be in the mix for rotation time. Yes, he’s 5-9 and Wes Welker-like, but don’t go there. If this offense develops a Welker, Powell has a better chance at that role. McCarron had a nice scrimmage and showed a knack for finding space a zone defense. There’s value in that. After Martin-Manley, Shumpert, Powell, Smith, Cotton, Bullock and McCarron, sophomore Jacob Hillyer will probably have a chance to show what he can do. He caught one pass as a redshirt freshman. Junior walk-on Blake Haluska always seems to be on the cusp of pushing into the rotation. The top seven, though, appears to be set for the most part.
Beyond Powell, the two first-year WRs who contributed last weekend were Derrick Willies and Derrick Mitchell. Willies caught a short crossing pattern and showed speed and strength with a 56-yard sprint to the pylon. Mitchell caught two passes for 25 yards. That’s not saying they’ll play. Iowa likely doesn’t need an incoming freshmen — Willies, Mitchell, Andre Harris, A.J. Jones and Matt VandeBerg — to break through at WR. If one happens to match what Powell is doing in practice, then that guy plays. When offensive coordinator Greg Davis arrived from Texas before last season, he said he’d like to be able to call on six or seven WRs. Iowa seems much closer to that than last season.
– Marc Morehouse
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