By John J. Thompson
It was early in the Saturday’s game against the Indiana Hoosiers when Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg dropped back to pass from the Iowa 20 yard-line and found a wide open Marvin McNutt for an 80-yard touchdown strike. What made this touchdown special for McNutt was that it was his 22nd career touchdown reception, breaking the record he shared with Hawkeye greats Tim Dwight and Danan Hughes. McNutt went on to catch two more touchdowns in Iowa’s 45-24 victory over the Hoosiers, boosting his career total to 24. He also had a personal best day for receiving yards in a game with 184 on six catches.
McNutt is currently in fifth place on the Hawkeyes all-time receiving yards list with 2,304 and trails Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, the all-time leader by 312 yards. McNutt is averaging over 100 receiving yards per game this season and it appears he’ll be able to claim the top spot by the end of the season. McNutt also has a chance to break the record for career receptions at Iowa. Currently, he trails all time leader Johnson-Koulianos by 44 catches. Barring a second-half collapse by the Hawkeyes, they should make a bowl game and give McNutt six more games to grab 44 passes, making him Iowa’s all-time leader in the three major receiving categories, touchdowns, yards and receptions. If the Hawkeyes have a strong second half, they could even make the Big Ten Championship game in December and give McNutt an extra game to capture records.
McNutt’s record-breaking numbers and electrifying plays have made him a fan favorite at Kinnick Stadium.
“McNutt is such an exciting player to watch, he makes tough catches look routine,” says Taylor Blackwell, a senior at the University of Iowa. “I remember one game earlier in the year when it looked like Vandenberg threw the ball a little too far out of McNutt’s reach, and he just stretched out with one hand and caught it in stride.”
What makes these numbers more remarkable is that McNutt came to Iowa as a quarterback, not a receiver. McNutt changed positions during his sophomore season after being buried on the depth chart behind quarterbacks Ricky Stanzi, James Vandenberg, and John Weinke. McNutt, now a senior, ran with the opportunity to play receiver and never looked back. He started 5 games in 2009, and has been a constant in the Iowa offense ever since. The switch has paid great dividends for McNutt, but even more for the Hawks.