Iowa football: Can Ihmir Smith-Marsette beat Rondale Moore for Hornung Award?

Iowa football Ihmir Smith-Marsette made the 2019 Hornung Award watch list, but he’ll need to get past Purdue’s Rondale Moore to win it.

After a breakout year as a return man, Iowa football player Ihmir Smith-Marsette is entering 2019 with some buzz. I’ve seen him on preseason All-American lists and preseason All-Big Ten lists, and personally, I believe he has a shot to break a few records this season in the return game.

Now, the reigning Big Ten Return Man of the Year has landed on the 2019 Paul Hornung Award watch list, an award given out to the most talented and versatile player in college football. Unlike a few other lists where there were upwards of 80 guys making this list, this initial watch list was slightly more exclusive with just 44 players being named.

Given his talents in the return game, Ihmir Smith-Marsette certainly has a shot at winning this award at the end of 2019, but he’ll face stiff competition within his own conference in the form of Rondale Moore.

As a freshman, Purdue’s Moore claimed the 2018 Paul Hornung Award after catching 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns, rushing for 213 yards on 21 attempts, and adding 744 yards in the return game.

Big things are expected for Moore in years two at Purdue, and if he lives up to expectations, Smith-Marsette will need to have a monster year to win this award, which means he will need to not just be a factor in the passing game, he will need to be the factor.

We know what he can do in the return game after he had 707 return yards on just 24 returns, but in the offensive attack, he hasn’t been as consistent or effective as one would hope. Last season, playing as the fourth option the junior Iowa football player had just 23 catches for 361 yards while adding 71 yards on the ground.

If he wants to go from the award watch list to award winner, he’s going to need to put up at least 750 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns, 200 yards on the ground, and 800 yards in the return game with 1 or 2 returns for touchdowns.