The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Wild West in wideout land

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep
during Iowa football media day on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. The Hawkeyes will play open up non-conference play against Wyoming at 11 a.m. (CT) on Saturday, Sept. 2. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

While some offensive positions are set for Iowa football, some are still wide open. As in wideout open.

There are obvious questions about who the starting quarterback will be when the season opener against Wyoming comes around, but there are also questions about whom the quarterback will throw to.

There is a glaring hole at wide receiver for the Hawkeyes; Matt VandeBerg is the only wideout on the roster who has caught a pass as a Hawkeye.

However, there are players on the roster who have caught balls at other schools at the college level.

Iowa Western transfer Nick Easley caught 72 passes in his sophomore season at the Juco level, leading the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference by 24 receptions in his All-American campaign.

Matt Quarells, a graduate transfer from New Mexico, totaled 11 receptions in 2016 in an option offense.

On the other hand, sophomore Devonte Young and junior Adrian Falconer have been in the program but haven’t recorded any offensive statistics.

There are also plenty of freshmen looking for playing time.

Wide-receiver coach Kelton Copeland said the competition for playing time has started.

“The time is now,” Copeland said. “The opportunity is now. What makes a group better is competition, so I wanted those vets to know that we’re bringing in these freshmen, [and] I’m pushing them to beat you out. Your job is to not get beat out. Your job is to earn your spot. That’s what’s going to make us better.”

VandeBerg didn’t play a lot at Iowa’s annual Kids Day, but it was by design. It gave the younger receivers a chance to show what they could do in front of a crowd.

Young took advantage of the opportunity, catching 2 touchdowns from quarterback Nathan Stanley.

One of those touchdowns gave him the chance to showcase his speed; the ball found his outstretched arms on a play that went for more than 50 yards.

“He’s a guy that’s grown, definitely, during camp,” VandeBerg said. “He’s been eager to learn and eager to understand what we’re trying to do offensively, and I think that’s really helped him throughout this camp


Easley has also impressed coaches during his short time with the program.

While freshman Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette have the chance to gain some playing time, Easley saw himself starting on the depth chart before fall camp.

The Newton native succeeded against some very high-quality competition in his time at Iowa Western, but making the jump from junior-college defenses to Big Ten defenses won’t be easy.

A first-team All-American in his sophomore season, Easley also credited VandeBerg for helping him learn the offense when he got to campus.

The combination of Easley’s talent, along with the veteran leadership of VandeBerg helped him rise to the top of the depth chart.

“Really, I just did my job; I made some plays,” Easley said. “Matt VandeBerg, he was out this spring, but he helped me a lot. Whether it was the playbook or just the little intricacies of the offense, he really helped me learn.”

The opportunity is there. Each player brings something to the table and with time winding down, Iowa wants to remove the question mark surrounding the position.

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About the Contributor
Pete Ruden
Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @PeteyRuden Pete Ruden is the Pregame Editor at The Daily Iowan, where he has worked since the beginning of his college career. He has covered a variety of sports at the DI, including football, men's basketball, baseball, wrestling, and men's tennis. Currently a senior, he served as a sports reporter his freshman year, before becoming the Assistant Sports Editor and then Sports Editor his junior year.