Transfers look for immediate impact in football


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa running back James Butler attempts to shed a tackle during the annual Kids Day at Kinnick event in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The Hawkeyes will play open up non-conference play against Wyoming at 11 A.M. on Saturday, Sept. 2 (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa football doesn’t take many transfers.

So when three athletes — all with the ability to have an immediate impact on offense — join the program, it’s worthy of note.

“Anytime you can add a good player, a good person, a high-caliber guy to your roster, that’s a positive,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said.

Running back James Butler and wide receivers Nick Easley and Matt Quarells all have not only the chance to see the field but to carve up defenses.

Aside from wideout Matt VandeBerg, Iowa’s depth at receiver remains untested and unproven; VandeBerg is the only Hawkeye in his position to catch a pass in Black and Gold.

Receiver-coach Kelton Copeland said that inexperience is the issue, not talent.

“There’s definitely a lot of talent and the willing to work,” he said.

Enter Easley and Quarells.

Easley proved himself to be a reliable option at the junior-college level. Earning first-team Juco All-America honors during his sophomore season, the junior hauled in 72 passes for 954 yards and 7 scores.

RELATED: Wild West in wideout land

He led the NJCAA in receptions and ranked fifth in yards.

Iowa Western provided Easley with an aerial attack worthy of showcasing his skills.

Easley, listed as the No. 2 receiver on Iowa’s depth chart, credits his learning on the fly to VandeBerg, who helped him wrap his head around the system.

“Whether it was the playbook or little [techniques] on offense, he really helped me learn fast,” Easley said.

In comparison, New Mexico’s offense rarely passed the ball — the Lobos rely on a triple-option style offense, a heavy dose of the running game.

Quarells, a three-star prospect from Hazelwood Central High School in Missouri, only snagged 13 passes in his two seasons with New Mexico. In his final season with the program, he caught 11 passes, netting 180 yards and a touchdown.

“He seems like a really quality young man,” Ferentz said. “He’s been here for a couple of weeks now — he hasn’t been with us officially, but he’s been around. He’s a really impressive guy.”

His lone score, a 62-yard strike in the Lobos’ season-opener, showcased his speed – something Iowa’s missed in the passing game.

“It’s all about reps and exposing these guys to as much college football as we can in a short amount of time,” Copeland said. “We use the term feed them with a firehose. [We] see how much they can take in.”

Butler, a graduate transfer from Nevada, entered camp as the transfer with the largest body of work under his belt.

Butler rushed for 3,316 and 27 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Wolfpack. In his final season at Nevada, he racked up 1,336 yards and 12 touchdowns.

He established himself as a threat in the passing game as well, catching 37 balls for 381 yards. He added three scores in that department as well.

Even tough he arrives in a crowded backfield, something Ferentz called a “good dilemma,” Butler’s mindset is focused on the team rather than his individual play.

“There’s nothing wrong with competition,” he said. “I didn’t come here to take anybody’s spots, I just came here to be the best teammate I can be in order to help the team as much as I can.”


Facebook Comments