Iowa Freshmen Receivers Could Play Right Away
Everyone around the Iowa Hawkeyes' football program is very excited about the true freshmen, particularly the wide receiver group. Throughout the summer and the first several days of camp, they've impressed many.
The trio arrived in Iowa City a bit unheralded as recruits, but that's done little to temper expectations regarding their potential.
Jerminic Smith was a three-star prospect, and rated as the 21st best wideout in Texas among high school seniors last year. Emmanuel Ogwo was actually rated as just a two-star prospect, and also from Texas. The last of the three is Adrian Falconer, who was a two-star senior from Florida last year.
Under the radar in recruiting, but under the radar no longer. They've grabbed the attention of many of their teammates and some of their coaches immediately.
"We have a few freshmen wide receivers that have a lot of talent," starting quarterback C.J. Beathard said. "Obviously they're young and still learning. They have a lot to learn before they can get in there and help us a lot, but they have a lot of talent and have done a lot of good things so far."
Fellow receiver Tevaun Smith is super excited about the new additions to his position meeting room. He was a lot more positive in regards to the freshmen possibly contributing this upcoming season.
"Emmanuel Ogwo has (flashed)," the The Iowa playmaker noted. "For the freshmen, so far a lot has been about the receivers. They're all good. One of our best wide receiver classes since I've been here. The year before (the wide receivers) were switched to defense. I'm the only wide receiver in my class. All of the freshmen guys we have this year won't switch. They'll stay at wide receiver."
"Ogwo and Smith (are exciting)," Tevaun Smith added. "They're both Texas guys and both hungry guys. We're pushing them and they're willing to work everyday. It would not be a surprise to see them get action right away. There's not a doubt."
Iowa linebacker Aaron Mends has seen it from the defensive side. He knows the challenges of harnessing the impact of the newcomers on the outside.
"Emmanuel (Ogwo) definitely has (impressed), he's definitely a fast guy," the defender for the Hawkeyes shared. "Everybody knows that. He runs track. Most of the receivers have impressed. We have good receivers. Jerminic Smith, too. A lot of the receivers are making some good progress. It looks like they're a lot more ahead than what I was as a freshman."
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis is also optimistic about the abilities of the newcomers at the position, but also shed some reality on the situation as well.
"I think Bobby Kennedy would tell you that overall our wide receiver speed is better with these three guys than what it was before," Davis explained. "These are three guys we're excited about. We have to see where we can get them in these 20 practices."
"We're anxious to see them," he continued. "Right now we can't put them up in the second huddle because they may blow a fuse at some point. Once they get a little comfortable then we can start putting them in there with Tyler (Wiegers) and a few snaps with C.J. (Beathard). That huddle is entirely different than the third huddle by what all you can do, and you have a guy that is ready to deliver the ball to the right spots."
Even the head coach realizes there may be some opportunities for the freshmen to see the field.
"I get to watch them train in the summer but I don't get to watch them catch balls," Kirk Ferentz pointed out about his youngest receivers. "If there's balls out there, I'm not allowed to be there. Yeah, you hear the older guys talking a little bit about those guys. Now we'll see what they do with a little more competition and a little bit more on their plate in terms of what to learn, and how to play in a system."
Ferentz went on to say, "We certainly have an open mind to those guys and we're excited. They're three really good young guys. It's a position to realistically think a first year guy can play as a significant contributor. That's all still got to play itself out. I'll know a little more about that in about two weeks."
Tevaun Smith, Matt VandeBerg, and Jacob Hillyer are the returners at the position expected to see the biggest roles at receiver, but Ogwo, Jerminic Smith, and Falconer have an opportunity in front of them to hit the field this year as true freshmen.
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