Iowa to field receiving corps light on proven production

Kevante Martin-Manley_130805_Wide

Iowa is looking for a starting quarterback, but the new guy might be limited in that the Hawkeyes' wide receivers are an untested bunch.

The leading returning receiver is junior Kevante Martin-Manley, who had 52 receptions for 571 yards and two TDs. But the only other returning wide receiver with more than six career receptions is senior Jordan Cotton, who had 12 receptions last season and has 13 in his career. Cotton is an excellent kick returner, but he obviously has a lot to prove as a wide receiver when fall camp opens today.

There are high hopes for sophomore Tevaun Smith, a Canadian with good size (6-feet-2, 200 pounds). In addition, junior college transfer Damond Powell is a blazer (a reported 4.4 clocking in the 40) who has coach Kirk Ferentz in a good mood.

"We really like him," Ferentz said at Big Ten Media Days recently. "He's a high-energy guy, and I think a good player. The biggest concern is just what conditioning level he'll be at when he gets here."

Powell (5-11, 180) is one of five wide receivers Iowa signed in February. The other four are freshmen, and none of the five went through spring practice.

Powell is from Toledo, Ohio, and didn't qualify academically out of high school. He went to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, and averaged a staggering 30.0 yards per catch on his 41 receptions last season; he also had 14 TD catches.

One potential positive for the passing attack is that senior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz should be one of the best in the nation at his position. He is a big guy (6-7, 265) who runs well and finally seems to have a good grasp of the offense. He is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and is coming off a 45-catch season.

Another positive for the passing attack is that for the first time in a while, Iowa has good depth at tailback and should be able to run the ball effectively, meaning play-action should be a productive facet of the attack.

Follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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