On Friday, the University of Iowa announced that wide receiver Jerminic Smith was no longer part of the football program. Back before the open practice in West Des Moines, it was announced that Smith would not be going through spring drills to work on academics. It appears that respite didn’t help.
The wide receiver position was already incredibly thin. This adds another major blow. Smith had 23 catches for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns a year ago and had a breakout game as a freshman when he caught 4 passes for 118 yards against Illinois. Going into his junior season, much was expected for Smith in a depleted group. The questions grow about the group going forward.
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
The only scholarship wide receiver that has caught a pass at the D-1 level is Matt Vandeberg. He was injured a year ago during practice after the Rutgers game with a foot injury. The injury returned and he needed another surgery during the spring. The question remains if Vandeberg will be able to recapture the speed and route running needed to be as productive as he was before the foot injuries.
Matt Vandeberg, via The Gazette
After Vandeberg, walk on Ronald Nash is the only wide receiver to catch a pass in an Iowa uniform. Devonte Young played last season as a true freshman, but didn’t catch a pass. Nick Easley is a walk on that is on the spring two-deeps, but is moving in from Iowa Western Community College.
It may be a season where freshman are relied upon at a big level. In the past, Iowa has had some success with freshman including James Cleveland and Dominique Douglas. Iowa is going to have to find some players that can contribute early out of a freshman group that includes Brandon Smith (6’3 198 lb, Lake Cormorant, MS), Max Cooper (6′, 175, Waukesha, WI), Henry Marchese (6’3, 190 Lincolnshire, IL), Ihmir Smith Marsette (6’2, 175 Newark, NJ) & Trey Creamer (6′, 175 Cartersville, GA).
To compound the issues, Iowa will be looking at a new starting quarterback in 2017. Nathan Stanley was thought to have a leg up heading into spring practice, but it appears to be a 2 man race with him and Tyler Wiegers. Iowa is also installing a new offense with their new offensive coordinator, Brian Ferentz. Add it all together and the concerns on who will be catching the football next year are big.
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