Posted by Adam Jacobi
As the Iowa Hawkeyes head into spring practice, the passing game is going to look a little different. Okay, a lot different. Between the starting quarterback (Ricky Stanzi), starting tight end (Allen Reisner), and top three wide receivers (Marvin McNutt, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Colin Sandeman), all were seniors except for McNutt, a junior.
As it turns out, even McNutt won't be around for spring practice either; as the Cedar Rapids Gazette's Marc Morehouse reported today, McNutt is out for the spring with multiple maladies:
McNutt had surgery on a thumb and shoulder recently. He probably wouldn’t have done much this spring anyway, being a decorated senior receiver who’s put up numbers the last two years, but this clinches it. He is expected to be ready for fall camp.
Junior-to-be Keenan Davis is a likely beneficiary here, as Davis is now the most experienced wideout in spring practice. In fact, with McNutt sidelined, Davis' 11 catches for 131 yards and a score not only lead the returning wideouts in 2010 production, they do so by default; none of the other wide receivers in spring practice caught a pass in 2010. That Davis spent most of last season taking practice snaps with presumed 2011 starting QB James Vandenberg is a nice bonus.
Thus, there's going to be a wide-open competition for the spot opposite Davis in the first team for spring practice. Johnson-Koulianos publicly praised freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley (redshirted in 2010) as having "my senior skills as a freshman", but considering the way DJK's Iowa career ended, it's probably safe to assume that Kirk Ferentz isn't exactly clamoring to hear endorsements from him. Still, so long as DJK's recommendation wasn't made from whole cloth, the McNutt/Davis/Martin-Manley trio could be formidable in 2011.
Also, as noted before, McNutt should be good to go for the start of the 2011 season, and that's notable from a record book perspective; McNutt has 16 career touchdown receptions, and the Iowa record is 21 (held by Tim Dwight and Danan Hughes). Six more is not only doable, but downright expected. That shoulder needs to hold up first, though.