During a press conference on Tuesday, Kirk Ferentz mentioned that the coaching staff was worried about the lack of depth behind Marvin McNutt. “When we came out of camp I wasn’t sure what our receiver situation was outside of Marvin (McNutt). It was a huge question for us.”
I think it’s safe to say that Iowa has found that depth. Junior Keenan Davis and RS Freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley have established themselves as the #2 and #3 options for quarterback James Vandenberg.
Davis, a product out of Cedar Rapids Washington, was a top 100 recruit coming out of high school. During his freshman campaign in 2009, Davis caught just 4 passes for 55 yards, including a 10 yard touchdown vs. Iowa State. His role during his sophomore year didn’t change. He caught 11 passes on the season and was masked by McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos. We have heard that the 6’3 receiver has all the athletic ability to be an elite receiver for the Hawkeyes, and no we are starting to see it.
Martin-Manley is in his second year. Last season was his first in Iowa City, but the Pontiac, Michigan product sat out with a redshirt. Martin-Manley reminds a lot of people of DJK, a shorter wide receiver with good hands and plus speed.
While Marvin McNutt caught 8 passes for 122 yards in Saturday’s comeback win vs. Pittsburgh, it was Davis and Martin-Manley who finally made their presence known on the field. Davis caught 10 passes for 129 yards, including a 14 yard touchdown pass from Vandenberg that cut the Panther lead to 10. That set up the stage for Martin-Manley. The freshman finished the day with just 4 catches for 76 yards, but it was 2 catches that stood out. Vandenbeg hit Martin-Manley on a 25 yard strike that put the game within a field goal as Iowa cut the lead to 27-24. The second was the biggest play of the day. Vandenberg lofted a pass towards the endzone, just barely clearing a Pitt defender, into a leaping Martin-Manley’s hands. The freshman’s 2nd touchdown of the day gave the Hawkeyes the lead and marked the biggest comeback in school history.
While McNutt will dominate the headlines, Davis and Martin-Manley are quickly becoming 2 of Vandenberg’s favorite targets. While many predicted that Davis would have a breakout year, Martin-Manley has all the makings of a very good slot receiver for the Hawkeyes. I think everyone was surprised by he performances of the 2 receivers in Saturday’s game, but no one more than head coach Kirk Ferentz.