Point/Counterpoint | Who will lead the Hawkeyes in receiving yards this season?
Two Daily Iowan staffers debate whether tight end Sam LaPorta or wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr. will top the Hawkeyes in receiving yards.
August 30, 2021
Tyrone Tracy Jr.
Hawkeye junior wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr. is no stranger to the spotlight.
As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Tracy was in the two-deeps for Hawkeye football. When former Hawkeye Brandon Smith went down with a high-ankle sprain, Tracy stepped up into the starting lineup.
Tracy had eight starts in 2019, with 36 receptions for 589 yards. He tied for first with former Hawkeye Ihmir Smith-Marsette, averaging 16.4 yards per reception.
With Smith back from injury in 2020, Tracy had a down year in the abridged 2020 football season. Throughout eight Hawkeye football games, Tracy only accounted for 14 receptions and 154 receiving yards.
Now, Tracy is ready to return to his former self.
Throughout spring and summer practices, Tracy took control of the wide receiver room after Smith-Marsette and Smith left Iowa to pursue NFL careers. With a full slate of practices throughout the offseason as well, Tracy had the opportunity to work closely with Hawkeye quarterback Spencer Petras to perfect routes.
Now, Tracy is the Hawkeyes’ No. 1 wide receiver, and he has high expectations for his junior season: reach 1,000 receiving yards and become the Richter-Howard Big Ten Receiver of the Year.
Behind Tracy, the Hawkeyes have junior Nico Ragaini as the Hawkeyes’ second starting wide receiver and freshman Keagan Johnson and senior Charlie Jones in the two-deeps.
Even if Tracy doesn’t reach his goal of 1,000 receiving yards, Petras will rely on him to make the big plays — making Tracy the Hawkeyes’ likely receiving yards leader in 2021.
The Iowa football program needs a new receiving leader after former Hawkeyes Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette left Iowa to pursue NFL careers.
The Hawkeyes need a consistent threat — someone who looks to make clutch first-down catches and have reliability going deep.
A sleeper candidate for leading receiver on the 2021 Hawkeye squad is junior tight end Sam LaPorta. The Highland, Illinois, native started at tight end for the first time in 2020 — his sophomore season.
Before the Hawkeyes’ 2020 season finale vs. Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium, LaPorta led the team in total receiving yards — that is, until Smith-Marsette recorded 140 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Badgers.
LaPorta finished the 2020 season first on the Hawkeyes with 27 receptions and second with 271 receiving yards, averaging 10 yards per catch.
Now, after former Hawkeye Shaun Beyer left Iowa and signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Denver Broncos, LaPorta is the undisputed leader of the Hawkeye tight end room.
Preceding the 2021 season, LaPorta is listed as the Hawkeyes’ No. 1 tight end on the Week 1 depth chart, with redshirt freshman Luke Lachey backing him up.
As the only experienced tight end on the Hawkeye roster, LaPorta will receive most of the reps at tight end.
This year, LaPorta earned preseason third-team All-Big Ten honors by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele — junior wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr. did not garner any preseason honors.
This year, LaPorta will be Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras’ go-to guy for receiving plays — giving LaPorta the most receiving yards on the Hawkeyes.