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2011 Iowa position breakdowns: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends (premium)

Posted on 07. Aug, 2011 by in Iowa Football

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*Every day this week, HawkeyeDrive.com will be previewing the 2011 version of the Iowa Hawkeyes position-by-position. After focusing on quarterbacks and running backs, we now turn our attention in the second of our seven-part series towards Iowa wide receivers and tight ends.*

By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

Much like the offensive backfield, there are known commodities among the group of skill players Iowa will have in 2011. The challenge for the coaching staff, however, will be finding out who else can emerge as pass-catching threats.

As far as who is back, the Hawkeyes only return two receivers and two tight ends that combined for 74 of the team’s 226 receptions in 2010. The good news for Iowa came back in January when Marvin McNutt decided to return for his senior season. McNutt was the Hawkeyes’ leading receiver in both receptions and yards last year, hauling in 53 catches for 861 yards. He was second in touchdowns last season, catching eight touchdown passes.

McNutt needs six more touchdown catches to become Iowa’s all-time leader in that category. The St. Louis native currently has 16 scores for his career, and the record of 21 touchdowns is shared by former wideouts Danan Hughes and Tim Dwight.

“He’s a talented receiver,” wide receivers coach Erik Campbell said. “It’s very exciting for the whole organization for him to come back because he’s a key guy for us.”

In addition to McNutt’s return, Iowa will also be counting heavily this season on junior wideout Keenan Davis. The Cedar Rapids native caught 11 passes last season, and scored one touchdown that came against Ball State on a drive where he came in for an injured McNutt.

But beyond McNutt and Davis, the Hawkeyes lost seven senior wideouts from last year, some of whom were there to provide depth purposes. Iowa comes into this year with three receivers seeing their names on the 2-deep for the first time. Two receivers — junior Steven Staggs and sophomore Don Shumpert — were listed behind McNutt, while redshirt freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley is behind Davis.

With this in mind, Davis understands that with becoming more of a focal point is a responsibility of mentoring the others that don’t have the experience he and McNutt possess.

“We got to come in and teach everybody what we know,” Davis said. “That’s exactly what they did with me my freshman year, and that’s what we got to do right now.”

As for some of the newer names, Staggs and Shumpert both got a chance to work with the first-team offense during the spring with McNutt being sidelined following offseason surgery, while Martin-Manley saw reps when the offense ran multiple receiver sets. Shumpert is the only one of the three who had any playing time last season, contributing on special teams.

“I think we all kind of bring something a little different to the table,” Staggs said. “We’re all kind of hungry right now, and we’re all just working. We’re not competing against each other. We’re competing as a unit to play on Saturdays together.”

Meanwhile, at tight end, it remains an assembly line of sorts. On one hand, the Hawkeyes lost Allen Reisner, who finished third on the team in receptions last season with 42 of them and scored twice in games against Iowa State and Wisconsin.

But on the other hand, senior tight end Brad Herman moves into Reisner’s spot as the top and most experienced at the position. Herman had nine catches for 154 yards receiving in 2010 while appearing in all 13 games last season, one of which was a start in Iowa’s 27-24 win over Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl.

The second tight end that will see the field is sophomore C.J. Fiedorowicz, who came in as a highly-touted recruit. The Johnston, Ill., native saw action as a true freshman last season, primarily on special teams. Now that he’ll be more involved in the offense, the 6-7 tight end is excited about the challenges that lie ahead for him. Fiedorowicz mentioned footwork as one thing he has put an emphasis on during the offseason.

“I’m busting my butt here and getting a lot of reps in camp,” Fiedorowicz said. “Hopefully, my time will come.”

Iowa also has a third tight end in junior Zach Derby, who did have one 17-yard reception in 2010.

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