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Keenan Davis is built like a prototypical No. 1 wide receiver.
The Iowa senior is 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds and has been clocked at under 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He's got the size and speed to be a real deep threat, and a physical wideout. There seems to be just one thing keeping him from stardom.
"I feel like I have a lot going on, but it's the neck up for me," Davis told ESPN.com. "It's paying attention to detail and competing every play.
Iowa's Keenan DavisChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesIowa needs Keenan Davis to produce consistently this season as a replacement for Marvin McNutt.
"That's a big thing for a receiver. A lot of guys weren't blessed with [physical] traits, but they go out and compete with the best. So it's mostly the neck up for receivers."
Davis has shown flashes of greatness during his career, including a 10-catch, 129-yard performance against Pitt last year, and a 109-yard day against Northwestern a couple of weeks later. But he has also struggled with consistency, and has been plagued by too many dropped passes, a problem that reared its head again in the Insight Bowl loss to Oklahoma.
This spring, Davis is working to put those issues behind him.
"It's just going out and getting your timing right," he said. "Going out and being confident in yourself. Most of those drops came from the easy catches."
The Hawkeyes need Davis to emerge as a consistent force as they look to replace all-time leading receiver Marvin McNutt, whose 1,315 yards last season accounted for more than 43 percent of the team's receiving yards.
"He needs to take that next step," head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "He's capable. He did a lot of good things last year, so now it's a chance to build on what he got started."
Ferentz pointed out that McNutt went from 53 catches as a junior to 82 last season. Maybe Davis, who hauled in 50 passes as a junior in 2011, can make a similar jump. He'll have an experienced quarterback in second-year starter James Vandenberg, and an offense that might have to rely on the passing game a little more with all the uncertainty at tailback. Vandenberg often locked onto McNutt last season, and for understandable reasons; this season, he'll need Davis and other receivers like Kevonte Martin-Manley to step forward.
"He's an incredibly talented guy," Vandenberg said of Davis. "And [he's] actually very similar to Marv when you think of height, weight, speed, the way he catches the ball, how he can go up for it. So obviously, we're expecting him to do a lot of things, but I don't think it's just pressure on him."
Davis said he views McNutt like a brother, and hopes to follow his footsteps.
"It's something I really want," he said. "I want to be the no. 1 guy. I always want the ball in my hands. It's something that every receiver at every school should want."
Not every school has a receiver as physically gifted as Davis. If he can master the mental aspect of his game, Iowa will once again have one of the Big Ten's top wideouts.
Keenan Davis is built like a prototypical No. 1 wide receiver. The Iowa senior is 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds and has been clocked at under 4.5 seconds i
pretty spot on I would say he has always had the talent he just needs to clean up his routes and hang onto the ball
I'm expecting a big year from Davis. I think we'll see a similar jump in his productivity that we saw from McNutt. Keenan has the opportunity to play himself into being a high draft pick.
I like him as a player, but honestly don't see the intangibles in him that McNutt had. He may acquire that this offseason, but I think it's more likely for Iowa to thrive on a receiver by committee set up than for Davis to have a monster year.
Todd "the party pooper" Worly strikes again!
I meant it more as a compliment to McNutt. I also think Iowa could be deeper overall at receiver in 2012 than in 2011.
I would have to agree, McNutt was special and while Davis is a little more physically gifted, he's not the same type of player as McNutt. I won't go as far as to say that Davis doesn't have the work ethic to be great because he's never been known to be in any trouble with the law or Ferentz, but he's just a different guy. As far as WR this year, I would have to agree that this will probably be a year where our WR core is more balanced in terms of production unless Davis really makes some serious strides this off-season. I think Davis could have been far more productive WR last year is it wasn't for all of the drops.
It's a simple, you drop the ball, you don't get targeted as often, you don't get targeted as often and your QB starts forcing throws to aren't as open, your QB forces too many throws and he either gets picked off or he starts missing, QB starts missing WR's and the offense stalls. End story of what happened to our offense last year.
Sine Missione -- Never be a spectator for unfairness or stupidity, argue for arguments sake; the grave will give plenty of time for silence.
As good of a season that McNutt had, it doesn't seem like NFL teams are that interested in him. With the numbers he put up, his size and a very decent 40 time, I would expect him to be mentioned as a high 2nd round pick, but most of the mock drafts that I see have him going in the late 3rd and 4th rounds.
If Davis is able to put up similar numbers to McNutt's last year, I wonder if he will be projected higher next year. He has similar size to McNutt, is more explosive and if he runs a very fast 40 time, I can see NFL people really liking him. The NFL is infatuated with speed, and if Davis cuts down on his drops and improves his route running, he could have a huge season and go very high in the draft.
This post was edited by Hawkifish 2 years ago
Agree on everything here.
Lets not forget for how good McNutt was he would drop at least a ball or two a game as well
Good point. McNutt would drop one right in his bread basket one play and then make a one handed catch on a throw behind him on the next play.
Great post here. Honestly, I think a lot of NFL teams do an awful job of evaluating receivers. I know there are a ton of examples of this, but think about the fact that Marques Colston was a 7th rounder, and then tore it up as a rookie. How does every team in the league miss on him that badly?
I agree that it's frustrating that McNutt isn't thought of more highly right now, but I still think he'll end up having a very good career.
*cough Derrius Heyward-Bey cough*
I agree...regardless of where McNutt is drafted, he should succeed in the NFL. Speaking of Colston, McNutt is very similar and could put up the same numbers on the right team.
Heyward-Bey actually started playing pretty well last year. I doubt he will ever play up to his draft position, but he's not a total bum either.
Isn't WR pretty much like RB in the NFL? In that you can get some pretty good talent in later rounds? The elite players stand out at both spots. But you can get stars in later rounds. I think that has been proven quite a bit.
Definitely. Outside of the top 3ish receivers you cam get some great receivers in the middle rounds.
I have no idea what to expect this season from the wideouts. Part of McNutt's year and his numbers were from the lack of a TE in Iowa's offense last season. I fully expect CJ to change that this season and become the premiere tightend in the Big Ten. Then you have to wonder what kind of production will KMM put up? Who steps up as the 3rd option, Shumpert, Hillyer or one of the incoming freshman? All questions without answers. But I also think it's going to be a by committee type season, which I think is actually better for the offense than having one guy like McNutt putting up huge numbers. At times last year I felt JVB forced the ball his way when there were other options open.
Great post here. CJ certainly should emerge as one of Vandenberg's top targets. I think Tevaun Smith has a shot to get some snaps as a true freshman both on offense and as a returner. Davis and Martin-Manley both need to step it up another notch for 2012 as well.
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