Other Position Previews
IOWA CITY, Iowa - New Iowa Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis spoke bluntly about a deficiency in the Hawkeye offense shortly after his arrival.
“We need to be faster,” he said. “We need to be able to stretch the field a little better. There is no question about that."
Davis wasn't pointing just at his receivers corps. Still, he was looking their way.
“There are certain things you can do to help (the lack of speed)," Davis said. "Bunch receivers, stack receivers and do some things to gain an advantage. Because sometimes when you get in those sets, they come out of a man look into a zone kind of situation. But one of the things that we’re all aware of is we’d like to have more speed on the outside."
In addition to finding a way to cover up the speed deficiency, Davis will be searching for a replacement for the departed Marvin McNutt. He's now a Philadelphia Eagle after rewriting the record book at Iowa.
Senior Keenan Davis seems to be the most apparent candidate to take over as the team's No. 1 receiver. He's the leading returning wideout in the conference with 50 catches for 713 yards and four scores as the No. 2 to McNutt in 2011.
It's hard to predict how much Keenan Davis can raise his numbers from a year ago. Even if he makes a natural progression he'll still need significant help from others at the position.
Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz likely will provide help in the passing game. But again, at least one other person will need to raise his game to complement he and Keenan Davis.
Sophomore Kevonte Martin-Manley played in all 13 games last season. He caught 30 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns as the No. 3 receiver.
"I'm going into my third year, so I look around the locker room and I'm a veteran," Martin-Manley told the team's official website. "I have to step up and step to the plate and I'm ready to do it. I'm doing it for myself as well as for the rest of the team."
Martin-Manley hit a freshman wall at the end of '11. During the team's final five games, he caught a total of seven passes for 80 yards with no touchdowns.
Provided Martin-Manley makes the necessary strides needed to be the No. 2, the third receiver position appears wide open. Senior Steve Staggs (five) and junior Jordan Cotton (one) are the only other returning receivers to have caught a pass last season.
Staggs showed some ability late in '11 and went from walk-on to scholarship player this offseason. Greg Davis spoke highly of Cotton during spring drills.
True junior Don Shumpert (6-3, 190) could be the speed piece Greg Davis craves. He could complement Keenan Davis and Martin-Manley well. The opportunity is there to be seized.
Jacob Hillyer (6-4, 205) red shirted last fall. He earned Texas first-team all-state honors as a senior for Somerset High.
Receiver also looks like a position where an incoming freshman or two could break through. The Hawkeyes will be bringing in four players that fit that bill.
Cameron Wilson (6-1, 195) and Greg Mabin (6-2, 190) won't blow anyone away with speed, but are polished. Maurice Fleming (6-0, 185) and Tevaun Smith (6-2, 190) might be a little more raw than their classmates, but they could stretch the field.