116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Arland Bruce IV still recalls the feeling he had in his first spring practice after enrolling early in spring 2021.
“I just remember being overwhelmed and thinking I’m messing up every play,” the Iowa wide receiver said.
Now Bruce has a full season of collegiate experience, resulting in a much more positive outlook in the first few practices of 2022.
“I have a lot more confidence than I did last year,” Bruce said Tuesday, shortly after Iowa’s fourth spring practice of the year. “Now I know what I’m doing, and I can help the younger guys too, so it’s awesome.”
That confidence boost comes after appearing in all 14 games in 2021 and scoring four touchdowns — one receiving, three rushing. He also notched 274 combined yards in his first season of college football.
Bruce’s 25 receptions were second among Iowa wide receivers, trailing only Nico Ragaini.
Iowa wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland said Wednesday Bruce is “obviously a very gifted athlete that could probably play a number of positions on any team.”
By about halfway through the season, Copeland thought Bruce and fellow true freshman Keagan Johnson “had established themselves as true stars within our offense.”
Johnson and Bruce both started against Illinois on Nov. 20, marking the first time in the Kirk Ferentz era that two true freshmen started in the same game at wide receiver.
When Bruce’s freshman season ended with a loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl — Bruce sped his way to a 20-yard rushing touchdown in the game, but the team result certainly wasn’t ideal — he gave himself 24 hours to be “pissed off.”
Then it was time to look ahead.
“I did a lot of clearing my head over (winter) break right after the bowl game,” Bruce said.
That mental and physical break was especially helpful for Bruce, who was used to playing in a shorter high school football season.
“I didn’t realize how long the season was,” Bruce said. “Man, it’s way different in high school. It’s crazy how your body feels.”
Now he’s “ready to get back to work” and has talked with Copeland about his next areas of development. Much of that goes down to his recognition of defensive schemes.
“The No. 1 thing was just reading the defense,” Bruce said. “Last year, I had no idea really how to read a defense until like the middle of the year. I know how to read a defense now, and I can run my routes accordingly to how the defenses play.”
Copeland sees Bruce’s route-running as a possible area for growth as well.
“Now being a detailed route-runner, being a detailed receiver — that’s the next step for Arland for sure,” Copeland said.
The Olathe, Kan., native already has made some academic adjustments, including changing his major from business to sport and recreation management.
“I definitely picked my schedule to where school is a little bit easier during the season, and a little bit harder now because we have so much more free time,” Bruce said. “At first I struggled to understand that class is really important, but I’ve definitely got it down now for sure.”
Bruce also has gotten closer to veteran players on the team, he said, including fellow wide receiver Charlie Jones and quarterback Spencer Petras. Bruce and Jones live together, along with Johnson and punter Tory Taylor.
Back on the football field, the 5-foot-10 receiver said catching passes from the same quarterbacks as last year in spring practice “definitely helps, too.”
“They know my tendencies,” Bruce said. “I know their tendencies. … The timing aspect is really what we’ve been working on.”
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