No. 44: Wide receiver Jacob Hillyer

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Marc Morehouse


Arrival: Last fall, if you were really watching, you started to notice a tall wide receiver dressing in the Iowa whites for road games. Usually, this is a reward for freshmen who are taking their redshirts. So, you figure, that Jacob Hillyer was doing some good things. Kind of an assumption, yes, but this is the only sign of life we see from freshmen taking their redshirt. Work with me.

Hillyer has the size the Iowa receivers coach Erik Campbell has molded into NFL-caliber wide receivers. The 6-4, 205-pounder also played his prep football at Somerset (Texas) High School and was coached by Sonny Detmer, the father of famous college quarterbacks Ty and Koy.

Obviously, Sonny Detmer is going to have a high knowledge of the passing game. Maybe Hillyer benefited. Say what you will about Dominique Douglas (CBI, two arrests, credit cards, the boot), but he showed during that one sparking season in 2006 (49 receptions) a refined technique uncommon for freshmen. He knew how to get open.

"A lot of guys can run and catch the football, but theres the technical part of it, reading defenses," Campbell said. "In this level, defensive coaches are pretty smart. Read the defense, react, also have the physical strength to compete at this level and all that. So well wait and see."

And then he added: "Im prepared for a freshman to come in and help us."

Throw all the candidates for No. 3 receiver into a pile and the one with the best technique is probably going to earn 45 targets and walk away with 35 receptions next season.

2012 Takeoff: We'll see for Hillyer.

You have to like his size. He was only one year into the Ken O'Keefe offense, so the change to Greg Davis' probably isn't the huge groin pull it might be for a fourth-year receiver. Not for sure, but maybe that could factor in a possible rise.

Campbell was asked about Hillyer this spring. It seemed as though the questioner thought there would be gushing. Here's what Campbell said:

"Jacob is coming along," Campbell said. "New system. Last year he learned something, now hes starting off as a freshman all over again. I think hes growing and developing. Like I said, Im waiting to see at the end of spring how they come along learning the system.

"Hes still learning as a receiver. He is a freshman. Its his first spring. He doesnt know what its all about, the competition level, competing every day. Hes not on the scout team anymore. Hes on the team where hes being looked at in those situations."

That's a definite "wait and see."

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