Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
The guys Nate Stanley will be throwing the ball to will look considerably different in 2019 then it did in 2018. That’s what happens when you look your senior go-to wide receiver in Nick Easley and two All-American tight ends in TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant.
Replacing those guys will be a tall task, and for the Iowa football team to meet the high expectations of next year, they will need a few guys to step up.
- Ihmir Smith-Marsette – Smith-Marsette has been getting plenty of snaps during his first two years on campus, but he’s finally stepping into a full-time starter role after playing behind Nick Easley. He’s a burner, but I have some concerns on how Iowa will use him. With that kind of speed, they need to take more chances over the top especially to open things up underneath for Iowa’s inexperienced group of tight ends.
- Max Cooper – Cooper is entering his third year in the Iowa football program, but has yet to really make an impact on the team. That being said, the coaching staff loves what they see in him considering he was the #4 wide receiver for the entire season (outside of when he suffered a season-ending injury). At 6’0”, 185 pounds, he could be a solid option in the slot given his quickness, but lack of top-end speed.
- Brandon Smith – Can we please just start throwing jump balls to Brandon Smith in the end zone? I truly can’t remember a time when the Iowa football team had a weapon like Smith at their disposal, and he is just starting to reach his true potential.
- Tyrone Tracy Jr -This kid will be a redshirt freshman come 2019, and I am excited to see what he can do. He is a 6’1”, 187-pound prospect from Indiana who ran a 4.63 40-yard dash in high school and jumped a 38.4 inch vertical. Imagine what he could do after a year with Chris Doyle. We’re about to find out.
There’s a lot of questions around the tight end position, and the Iowa football team focused heavily on this position for the class of 2019 bringing in three tight end prospects. However, it’s not often that freshman play a pivotal role with the Hawks and that’s even more true with the tight end position where Iowa needs players who can handle blocking and receiving duties.
Most people are worried about who can replace the production, but I truly feel comfortable with the guys that are likely to step up as I noted in an earlier article about replacing Fant and Hockenson. That being said, give these guys some time considering only one guy on the roster has any catches (and that’s just two).
- Shaun Beyer – Beyer is a stellar athlete who is the best option to replace the production of Fant and Hockenson, if he can stay healthy. Coming out of high school, he was considered a wide receiver, but as the Hawks do, they’ve built him into a tight end.
- Drew Cook – Putting Cook here is based all on projections. He was a fantastic athlete in high school while playing quarterback, but has only been playing the tight end position for a few years now. His dad (Marv Cook), however, is one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the Iowa football program. My guess is he may have taught him a thing or two.
- Nate Wieting – Wieiting will likely end up as the third guy because he doesn’t possess as much receiving potential as the two above, but he will still get on the field quite a bit because of his blocking abilities. The former walk-on played quite a few snaps this past season and even started in the Outback Bowl after Fant left.