Brown Leads Talented Group of Iowa Receivers

The Hawkeyes appear poised to reload on the offensive outside after losing a couple of key performers. Senior Mo Brown is coming off of a monster season and will be expected to lead an inexperienced group of wideouts. A couple of names pop up as possible rising stars. Read the thoughts of Brown and position coach Lester Erb as they explain why this group of wideouts can be special.

Mo Brown caused fits for opposing defenses last season. In his first year as a starter, the Iowa receiver set a school record with 11 touchdown catches.

The secret is out now. He likely will see more coverage this season than J-Lo and Ben.

"It's not going to change my approach," said Brown, who finished '02 with 48 receptions for 966 yards - the fourth most in Iowa history. "I'm trying to improve from last year. I'll get more attention, but I'm still trying to reach the end zone."

The senior also will be required to lead a young and inexperienced group of receivers. Sophomore Ed Hinkel (22, receptions, 218 yards, a touchdown in '02) is the only other Hawkeye wideout with significant playing time under his belt.

Brown certainly can use his toughness to lead by example. He broke his foot in the Michigan game last season and still played in the final four games.

"I practiced a little on Thursdays. That's about it," said Brown, who caught 19 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns with his broken foot. "There was a lot of pain."

Iowa fans should be comforted in knowing that Brown and Hinkel came out of nowhere last season (Brown had three career receptions). Hopefully, young players like Calvin Davis, James Townsend and Matt Melloy, or upper classmen waiting for an opportunity like Ramon Ochoa and Warren Holloway, can emerge.

"I'm sure that some people are going to be keying on (Brown)," Iowa receivers coach Lester Erb said. "But I think we have some other guys that are going to be able to step up too and help him out."

Davis might be the top candidate to replace C.J. Jones (38, 468, 9) and Clinton Solomon (14, 159, 1). The redshirt freshman from Iowa City looks like he has added considerable bulk and strength to his 6-1 frame. He weighs 192 pounds after checking in at 180 last year.

"Calvin is getting better every day," Erb said. "Calvin isn't a real experienced guy, but he had a good offseason. He was injured in spring ball, but the couple of days out there he's shown that he's developed some skills. The big thing with Calvin is that we just have to give him some confidence."

Davis sat out a season at City High to concentrate on basketball and track, two sports at which he excelled. He then realized that football could be his best athletic opportunity in college. He caught 53 passes for 910 yards and 10 touchdowns in leading City High to the Class 4A state title game as a senior in '01.

"He's seeing a lot of things for the first time," Erb said. "The speed of the game is obviously different for him. It's just going to come down to him getting a lot of reps, and seeing how he responds to them."

Strength and conditioning Coach Chris Doyle also has worked overtime on Davis, who no longer looks like a wirey basketball player/track star.

"He's not skinny anymore," Erb said. "He looks like a Big Ten wide receiver. He can run. He has great athletic ability. He has real good body control and has pretty soft hands."

Hawkeye Head Coach Kirk Ferentz has stated on more than one occasion that Melloy could be a player on whom to keep an eye. He walked on at Iowa after earning all-state honors for two seasons at Mt. Pleasant High.

"We had him in (high school) camp," Erb said. "We followed him through his senior year. Iowa was a place that he always wanted to come to. We were fortunate enough that he chose us."

At 6-3, 200 pounds, Melloy gives quarterbacks a big target. He is a strong athlete who lettered in four sports at Mt. Pleasant.

"Matt Melloy is a guy to follow," Erb said. "The only thing that Matt has done every single day is work his tail off and get better. He catches the ball, gets in and out of breaks, and does everything you ask. I don't know what else more you could ask of a kid. He's tough physically, mentally. He' a guy that's going to be fighting for some playing time."

Townsend hopes to be fighting off a redshirt. The speedy true freshman from New Jersey looks physically ready to play at 6-1, 185.

The ranked Townsend as the 49th best player in the Atlantic Region. He won the New Jersey state championship in the 100-meter dash and caught 52 passes for 1,063 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior.

Ochoa (5-10, 190, Sr.) looked sharp in the spring game and has plenty of experience in the Iowa system. Holloway has stood out on special teams and also has played three years in the Hawkeye offense.

"We can be as good or better than last year," Brown said of the receiver corps. "We're going to miss C.J., but that's something that we've got to deal with. We still could be one of the best in the Big Ten."

Iowa also will break in a new quarterback. Senior Nathan Chandler appears to be the clear leader to follow Brad Banks, who led the nation in pass efficiency and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting in '02.

"I have full confidence in Nathan," Brown said. "We've been working together since last year ended. I know he can do it. People are going to be suprised."

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