116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Last year at this time, Iowa State receiver Xavier Hutchinson had routine Zoom calls in his garage with receivers coach Nate Scheelhaase.
Scheelhaase went over how to correctly line up in Iowa State’s offense and how to line up for other, more specific plays.
Now, after being named the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year, Hutchinson gets his first full spring.
“I don’t think you can take away from the work that Xavier put in,” Scheelhaase said. “He came in, in a year where there was a pandemic, and he put in a lot of work.
“He was bettering himself while he was away from us. He put in a lot of work. He’s earned the right to get the ball thrown to him. That’s how it works — you earn the trust of the offensive coordinator and quarterback.”
And the ball was thrown his way a lot.
Hutchinson, a junior college transfer from Blinn Community College, was second in the Big 12 in receptions and yards with 64 catches for 771 yards.
“When you talk about the receivers, you have to start with Xavier,” Scheelhaase said. “He came in last year and was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. It was the work he did behind the scenes and the work he did once he got here that allowed him to get there.”
Now Hutchinson, along with Daniel Jackson and Aiden Bitter, two true freshman receivers who also made an impact on Iowa State’s offense, get a full offseason to work on their respective games.
The 6-foot-2 Jackson played in Iowa State’s first four games as a slot receiver. He had five catches for 28 yards before a foot injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Bitter played in six games, mostly on special teams, but he did have a 38-yard catch against Kansas State.
“It’s been great to work with those guys this offseason and watch them go through their first spring ball,” Scheelhaase said. “Daniel made some contributions to the offense before he had an injury that ended his season. With him, you have a big, physical receiver that can play on the outside or the inside. He has the ability to move around and that’s what we’ve been doing with him this spring, seeing where he fits best in our offense.”
Bitter is someone who Scheelhaase said can also play multiple positions while also continuing to contribute on special teams.
“With Aiden Bitter, the mentality that he brings every day — he made contributions on special teams last year and he was a guy we felt like could go in at all three receiver positions,” Scheelhaase said. “With his ability to understand our offense and make an impact on special teams, he’ll contribute in a number of different ways. We don’t know when that’ll be, but he’s a guy that we trust and rely on.
“We know we’re in good hands when he’s out there and he’ll have a role.”