CEDAR RAPIDS — Connor Hollenbeck is one of just two returners for the Cedar Rapids Titans football team.
After a successful indoctrination to the Indoor Football League last season, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound receiver is off to a rousing start in his second year. Through three games, Hollenbeck is tied for the league lead with 16 receptions, is a yard away from first in receiving yards (179) and has three touchdowns.
“Last year, it took me about three games to get the feel of the indoor game,” said Hollenbeck, who will help the Titans (1-2) face the undefeated Nebraska Danger (2-0) Monday at 7:05 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center. “Now this year, I was ready to go from game one. … I knew what to expect and I knew what coaches expected from me, so just got to keep it rolling.”
During each of his two seasons in the IFL, Hollenbeck — a native of Ontario, N.Y. and alumnus of Edinboro (Pa.) University — has received pivotal instruction from former University of Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt. McNutt was the head coach of the Titans last season. This year, he is serving as an assistant to first-year Cedar Rapids Coach Marvin Jones in addition to his duties as club general manager.
“He had a huge impact on my development as a wide receiver,” said Hollenbeck, who caught 46 passes for 570 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie last season. “Especially from me being a quarterback my first year of college and kind of getting new to the position, he elevated my game to a whole new level. … He’s still working with the wide receivers and I feel like that is a big part of why our receiving corps and passing game is so good. He definitely plays a role in that.”
Under first-year quarterback Jake Medlock, the Cedar Rapids passing game has shined early. Medlock leads the league in passing yards (526) and TDs (9) without throwing an interception. Former Texas Tech receiver Javon Bell is fifth in the league with 13 receptions and seventh in yards (128), while tailback Tyler Thomas has caught 10 passes out of the backfield for 81 yards and two scores.
“We have a very high potential with this offense,” Medlock said. “We are so athletic. We’re really close and I just keep telling them, ‘Each week is a new week. Always 0-0.’ You always want to be 1-0 at the end of every week. I think we have a chance to be one of the best offenses in this league.”
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Nebraska is led by first-year Coach Mark Stoute, who was 42-21 from 2013-16 as coach of the Titans.
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