(This is another Outback holdover, looking toward wide receiver for the 2009 season. So far, I’ve done QB, RB, OL and now WR. I’ll find some stuff on the defense next week.)
I didn’t jinx Iowa wide receiver Trey Stross. I hope I didn’t.
We talked to Stross during the beach day. We talked a little about the frustrations of two years dealing with hamstring issues. He’s missed seven games between ’07 and ’08 and has been hampered in who knows how many others.
This was a day or two before the Outback Bowl. I joked that he could be a secret weapon.
“I hope so,” he laughed. “I know that South Carolina doesn’t know very much about me, unless they looked at last year’s film, which I doubt.
“This year, I’ve been banged up basically the whole season, so . . .”
So, a handful of plays after catching a 6-yard TD pass, Stross broke his collarbone while throwing a block. He took it well afterward, but still . . . c’mon, football gods. Give the kid a break.
“It’s been a very frustrating season for me,” he said. “I’ve tried really hard and did all I could to stay healthy and it just didn’t work out. We actually got the (hamstring) problem fixed and it’s under control, so hopefully, I can do whatever I can to do whatever the team needs, blocking, receiving, whatever.”
The good news there is that the hamstring problems seem to be at least ready to be behind Stross, a big, strong 6-3, 200 with speed and Big Ten track and field ability in the high jump (he has a career-best jump of 6-9 3/4 for the Iowa track team).
Here’s a quick role call for returning wide receiver for the Hawkeyes:
— Derrell Johnson-Koulianos will be a junior. He led the Hawkeyes in receiving for the second consecutive season. In a stretch of four games, DJK had two, zero, three and two receptions for 57 yards. This happened around the time he was banned by coach Kirk Ferentz from Tuesday interviews after wearing a hat and sunglasses on camera. He got the message and responded with 17 catches for 296 yards and two TDs in Iowa’s final three games. In the victory over then-No. 3 Penn State, DJK caught seven passes with a TD. At Minnesota, DJK went nuts, catching seven for 181 and one TD.
DJK has 82 receptions for 1,121 yards in his first two seasons. Kevin Kasper’s receptions record (157) and Tim Dwight’s yardage record (2,271) aren’t out of the question.
— Stross, a senior, caught 13 passes last season. No word on if he’ll go good to go for spring practice, which begins March 25 and ends April 18.
— Colin Sandeman will be a junior next season. He basically disappeared after Florida International last season. He didn’t catch a pass in Iowa’s final five games.
— After a promising freshman season (19 catches, 210 yards and GW TD vs. Michigan State), Paul Chaney Jr. disappeared this season. He caught two passes in the opener against Maine and that was that.
— Converted quarterback Marvin McNutt leads a group of possible contributors. At 6-4, 210, McNutt could give the position a shot of size and athleticism. Redshirt freshman Shane Prater (6-1, 170) has been talked about by teammates as one of the fastest players on the team.
This is a position that could benefit from a incoming freshmen.
Cedar Rapids Washington’s Keenan Davis might be ready to step in. The 6-3, 195-pounder was a producer for the Cedar Rapids Washington offense before a high-ankle sprain. Also, Mount Pleasant’s Jordan Cotton tore up Class 3A as a running back. He’ll have to make a transition. And who knows, Sioux City Heelan’s Brandon Wegher could find a spot here. He’s a 6-foot-ish, 200-ish running back who might have the speed and quickness to thrive at a slot receiver position. Josh Brown (5-11, 200) is a wide receiver from St. Petersburg, Fla., who has a lot of schools after his talents. He could also play somewhere on defense.
Do two of these guys need to come through?
Tight end will likely be built around senior Tony Moeaki and his shaky health history. He missed five games, but when he was healthy, he was a weapon. The 6-4, 255-pounder had catches that went for 48 and 39 yards (a great fake block and go in the Outback). Moeaki, who finished with 13 catches for 144 yards and a TD, rode a golf cart off the practice field everyday in Tampa. Hey, whatever it takes to get the big guy to the field.
If junior Allen Reisner continues his steady improvement, he’s looking at 25 or so catches for 300 or so yards next season. He finished with 11 for 200 yards and maybe the TD catch of the season, the one-hander against Wisconsin.
Sophomore Brad Herman (6-5, 225) and redshirt freshman J.D. Griggs (6-5, 225) look the part. They’re playing somewhere and, maybe, sometime soon.