Oct. 23, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa - As the clock was winding down on Iowa's 45-24 homecoming triumph over Indiana, Pat Harty, sports columnist for the Iowa City Press Citizen, asked me if Marvin McNutt might be the Hawkeyes' best all-time wide receiver. It was a good and timely question.
McNutt had just polished off a monster game. Going in, he needed one touchdown reception to establish a school record. By halftime, he had three.
In his most optimistic dreams, McNutt could not have imagined how easy the record-breaker would be. Running free at midfield, with no Indiana defender in his zip code, he cradled a pass from James Vandenberg and simply ran straight to the end zone.
The play covered 80 yards, and most of the time, on the TV replay screen, McNutt was the only player in the picture. (Hint to Hoosiers: You might want to cover this guy. He's pretty good.)
McNutt hauled in two more TD passes, both in the end zone. The first was a picture-perfect over-the-shoulder catch. On the second, he leaped high and snatched the ball from a helpless defender. He now has an Iowa record 24 career TD pass receptions, and with five regular-season contests (and hopefully a bowl game) remaining, he will likely add to that number.
So back to Pat Harty's question: Is McNutt the best wideout in Hawkeye history? Without giving it a lot of thought, I gave a spontaneous affirmative answer. He's got the size, speed, hands and moxie, and now he has the Iowa career touchdown record. And he seems to be getting better and better.
Learning the wide receiver position has been an adventuresome transition for McNutt, who was recruited out of St. Louis as a quarterback and remained at that position for the better part of two seasons. When Ricky Stanzi established himself at quarterback in 2008, Coach Kirk Ferentz, who has a knack of getting players in the right positions, nudged McNutt to wide receiver. The rest, as they say, is history.
Speaking of history, Iowa has had a lot of exceptional wideouts since Hayden Fry came along in 1979 with his pro-style offense. Which made me wonder, was I too quick to judge McNutt as the best?
If Tim Dwight wasn't the best, he was surely the most exciting. Quinn Early, Danan Hughes and Maurice Brown were outstanding receivers, and all played for Big Ten championship teams. And there is Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who wrapped up his career a year ago holding school records for most receptions and yards.
Still, the first wide receiver I would pick on my all-time Iowa team would be Marvin McNutt. Not sure who my second choice would be. We'll leave that for another day.
Now that McNutt owns the Iowa career record for TD catches, he can zero in on the season mark, which is 11, held by Brown. McNutt has been consistent, with eight TD receptions this season and eight in each of the past two.
HAWK TALK . . .