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IOWA CITY — Iowa’s wide receivers room won’t look exactly the same in 2022 as it did in 2021, but it’ll certainly be a familiar look with several returning contributors.
Here’s how the position looks before spring practices as part of The Gazette’s winter football position breakdown series:
Tyrone Tracy, who transferred to Purdue, began the 2021 season as a starter at wide receiver and one of Iowa’s player representatives at Big Ten Media Day.
But once the season began, the ball rarely went in Tracy’s direction. He exceeded three targets in a game just twice in 2021 and wasn’t targeted at all after the Northwestern game on Nov. 6, per Pro Football Focus.
Fellow wide receivers Quavon Matthews and Desmond Hutson also left via the transfer portal. Neither had significant playing time since arriving on campus in 2020 and 2019, respectively.
Max Cooper, who already used his extra COVID-19 year of eligibility, is Iowa’s only departing senior. Cooper had one reception in each of the last two seasons.
Essentially every wide receiver who had a major role in the 2021 offense is back in 2022.
Charlie Jones will use his extra COVID-19 year of eligibility in 2022. The Buffalo transfer who first caught Iowa fans’ attention with his electric punt/kick returns has developed into a reliable weapon on offense.
Nico Ragaini, who has played most of his time in the slot, recorded 450-plus snaps in two of his last three seasons and will again provide a veteran presence at the position.
Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV, who enrolled at Iowa last spring, emerged as Big Ten-ready receivers in their true freshman seasons. Now they’ll have the benefit of another year of offseason training at the collegiate level. Bruce’s breakout speed also opens possibilities for offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz.
A couple other returning players to keep an eye on include Jackson Ritter and Brody Brecht.
Ritter played in five games and started against Iowa State in his sophomore season.
Brecht, who also is a right-handed pitcher for the Iowa baseball team, did not play in 2021, but he could be a factor in 2022.
Who’s joining the mix
Jacob Bostick, a three-star recruit from Palatine, Ill., is the sole scholarship wide receiver in the 2022 recruiting class.
Four walk-on receivers — Reese Osgood, Alex Eichmann, Graham Friedrichsen and Kaden Wetjen — have also committed to Iowa.
While it’s uncommon for head coach Kirk Ferentz to start true freshman, wide receiver is one of the most common positions for it to happen. Of the 17 true freshmen to start a game since 2013, five have been wide receivers. (The only position with more true freshman starters is defensive back.)
Way-too-early two-deep projections
Here’s how the wide receiver position appears to be shaping up at this point in the offseason:
Wide (X) starter:
- Keagan Johnson
- Brody Brecht
Wide (Z) starter:
- Charlie Jones
- Jackson Ritter
- Arland Bruce IV or Nico Ragaini
Like at a handful of other positions, the Hawkeyes have the benefit of a lot of continuity at wide receiver.
The next steps Johnson and Bruce take between their freshman and sophomore years could determine how high the ceiling is in the wide receivers room.
Getting Jones back for another year will be a big plus.
The talent is obviously there although the position group still has some areas to improve on from 2021, particularly with dropped passes. The Hawkeyes’ 25 drops in 2021 led the Big Ten West, according to PFF.
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