Aug. 13, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- For Morgan and her younger brother Tanner from Greene, Iowa, it was a quick response. Their favorite Hawkeye football player is wide receiver Marvin McNutt, Jr.
Morgan and Tanner had a front row view of McNutt, Jr., and the rest of the Hawkeye players and coaches Saturday at the annual Kids Day Scrimmage inside Kinnick Stadium.
McNutt, Jr., was the official winner of the unofficial hawkeyesports.com popularity poll, conducted during the two-hour open practice. Ronan, from Bettendorf, Iowa, likes McNutt, Jr., because he catches touchdowns. Bailey, from Waukon, Iowa, wants to be a wide receiver when she grows up, making McNutt, Jr., an easy pick for her favorite player.
"This is a great Hawkeye community," said McNutt, Jr., after being informed of the popularity vote. "As you grow here and become a senior, stuff like that happens. It's a great feeling, though."
"It's a great responsibility role to be in for me. It's something that comes with the territory. I know I'm going to have a blast going over there and signing stuff for them. It's something we all kind of embrace and enjoy."
For Ronan, James Vandenberg was his No. 2 choice because he is the "new quarterback." For Kyle from Glenwood, Iowa, Vandenberg was his top selection.
"He has a good arm and he can run sometimes, too," Kyle said. "I did like (Adrian) Clayborn, but he got drafted and moved."
So too did Ricky Stanzi, who started for three seasons at the UI before joining the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs in April. Vanderberg was an understudy to Stanzi for those three seasons and he is no stranger to the routine of a starting quarterback.
"It's a great responsibility role to be in for me," Vandenberg said. "It's something that comes with the territory. I know I'm going to have a blast going over there and signing stuff for them. It's something we all kind of embrace and enjoy."
Kids Day marks the 11th practice of the preseason for the Hawkeyes, who will stay away from the practice fields Sunday, but return for numbers 12 and 13 on Monday.
"So far, so good. It's still early," UI senior tight end Brad Herman said. "That's the beauty of camp: you still have a long time to get better and it's something we definitely need to do."
Herman, with nine catches last season and a long of 56 yards, is one of many talented targets for Vandenberg, who is already counting his blessings.
"I'm fortunate. I have a lot of good targets out there with those tight ends, that group of wide receivers and handing off to a good group of backs," Vandenberg said. "That's as good as it gets for me."
Veteran sportscaster Bob Brooks then asked specifically about tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz.
"What is he, 7-foot-5?" Vandenberg asked of Fiedorwicz, who is listed at 6-7.
"He looks that," Brooks replied before Vandenberg continued.
"He's a real big target; he's a big, physical guy and he does a nice job using his body to get open. We're going to keep trying to build that relationship and move forward."
Iowa opens the season Sept. 3 against Tennessee Tech inside Kinnick Stadium. On that day there will be nearly 60,000 more Hawkeye fans in attendance -- the estimated crowd Saturday was 11,000.