April 5, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa assistant football coach Erik Campbell doesn't mind if he has a wide receiver finish with 85 catches or 20 catches during the 2012 season, as long as the Hawkeyes win games.
"It's about victories, whatever it takes for us to win," said Campbell, Iowa's wide receivers coach since 2008. "If it is 20 catches the whole season, if it helps us win, we'll do that. That's the bottom line.
"Whatever it takes to win -- blocking, running routes, being the clear-out guy -- we all work together to help the team."
With Iowa's all-time leading receiver Marvin McNutt, Jr., no long in the equation, the Hawkeyes have a young, inexperienced group at wide receiver. While the top two positions on the depth chart have senior Keenan Davis and sophomore Kevonte Martin-Manley penciled in, who will fill the third and subsequent positions is still a mystery.
"We have no depth chart right now," said Campbell. "They're all competing for those spots. Hopefully we have more than just three receivers next fall."
After catching 50 passes for 713 yards and four touchdowns opposite McNutt during his junior season, Davis is being counted on to step into a leadership role.
"He's a veteran guy," said Campbell. "We expect more out of him than we have in the past because now he is the most experienced guy. He's coming in and practicing, but at the same time, he's learning the new system, and it slows you down a little bit."
Martin-Manley has been one of the biggest surprises this spring. The experience he picked up while catching 30 balls as a redshirt freshman is paying dividends.
"The guy is really starting to emerge," said Campbell. "You can see that experience pay off. You can see him looking like a veteran receiver, doing things that a guy with that kind of experience has shown."
Senior Steven Staggs, juniors Don Shumpert and Jordan Cotton and reshirt freshman Jacob Hillyer are returning players looking to fill out the depth chart, while Campbell says the three freshman recruits -- Greg Mabin, Tevaun Smith and Cameron Wilson -- could be in the mix.
"I feel it's still young," said Campbell of the position group's depth. "When I say young, I mean game experience. There are not a lot of guys with game experience, and that is why it is up for grabs right now.
"We recruited three kids that have an opportunity to come in and compete for the position. We are going to find out once they come in who is going to emerge and who we can depend on."
Campbell says the biggest thing for the Hawkeyes during the spring is to learn the new offense being installed by Greg Davis, Iowa's first-year offensive coordinator.
"The whole offensive system is new, not just the terminology, but we tweaked things," said Campbell. "We run the same routes, but it's a different way of running it.
"The guys are all doing a great job learning it. Hopefully by the end of the spring we start reacting and look better as we go."