Jan. 11, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa football program will be represented by four players participating in two postseason all-star games. Defensive back Shaun Prater and offensive lineman Markus Zusevics will take part in the East-West Shrine game, while wide receiver Marvin McNutt, Jr. and defensive lineman Mike Daniels will participate in the Senior Bowl.
The 87th East-West Shrine game will be played Jan. 21 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. (CT), and the game will be televised on the NFL Network.
The Senior Bowl is Jan. 28 at Ladd-Peebeles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. The 3 p.m. (CT) contest, along with all practices, will also be televised on the NFL Network.
Zusevics (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) is looking forward to the opportunity. Having received his degree in December, he will continue to train in Iowa City before heading to Florida.
"I'll be training at Iowa before traveling to Florida for a week of practice," said Zusevics, a native of Arlington Heights, Ill. "We have a week of practice, then the game. After that I will continue to train at Iowa for the NFL Combine and Iowa's Pro Day in Iowa City."
Zusevics was a solid contributor to the Iowa offense over the past two seasons, starting 26 straight games in two years at right tackle. He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors as a senior.
"It's a great opportunity, in general," said Zusevics. "I need to improve on some technique issues, as well as adding size and strength. There will be a lot of NFL scouts at the game. I hope to take a positive step in that direction. I received a tremendous amount of support from the Iowa staff; coach Doyle, coach Ferentz, coach Morgan, they believed in me. I enjoyed my career at Iowa and this is a chance to play one more game wearing an Iowa helmet."
Prater (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) elected to return to Iowa for his senior season in 2011 after exploring his professional opportunities following his junior season. He is training in Los Angeles for the events leading to the NFL Draft. He completed his Iowa career with 171 tackles and seven interceptions. He ranks seventh all-time with 173 interception return yards.
"I don't know what to expect at the Shrine Bowl," said Prater. "A lot of NFL scouts will be there. The feedback I received a year ago was to improve my man-to-man coverage, which we rarely played at Iowa. This game will give me a chance to play cover one (man-to-man) for an entire game, while playing against top receivers from all over the country. Basically, what they want to see from me is my speed, and my cover one skills. Adding a little weight would also be good for me."
Like Zusevics, Prater feels he has grown, on and off the field, during his Hawkeye career. "We had a lot of ups and downs, going 7-6 this season," he said. "I would have loved to have done more to help the team. Overall, I've had a chance to learn and grown as a man. Iowa teaches you to be disciplined, and that will be to my advantage down the road. I'm honored to have played here."
McNutt began his Iowa career as a quarterback prospect and five years later leaves as one of the top Hawkeye receivers. He is Iowa's career leader in receiving yardage (2,861) and ranks second with 170 receptions. He tied the single season mark for receptions (82) and set the record for yardage (1,315). He also holds Iowa records for season (12) and career (28) touchdowns, ranking 10th in career scoring (168 points).
Daniels was lightly recruited as a senior in high school, but developed throughout his career and started 21 games over the past two seasons. He led the Hawkeyes in tackles for loss (13.5-63) and quarterback sacks (9-53) as a senior while fighting through injuries to start all 13 games and record 67 tackles.
Under UI head coach Kirk Ferentz a number of Hawkeye players have participated in postseason games. Since 1999, 62 Iowa players have made 71 appearances in postseason games. That list includes 21 players taking part in the Senior Bowl and 17 being invited to the East-West Shrine game.