Marvin McNutt of Iowa Shines in Transition from Quarterback to Wide Receiver

Kevin TrahanAnalyst IDecember 29, 2009

After he arrived at Iowa, it was pretty clear that Marvin McNutt was never going to play quarterback for a Division I school.

He has great athleticism and leadership qualities, and while he was a good quarterback, he didn't have what it takes to play the position at a higher level.

But his speed and athletic skills were too much to ignore, and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz wasn't about to let his skills go to waste.

"Obviously the coaches saw something," said McNutt. "They knew I was an athlete, so they knew it wouldn't be too hard for me to switch positions."

At 6'4", 215 pounds, Ferentz's sophomore quarterback from St. Louis had the perfect build to be a wide receiver. With Ricky Stanzi building a solid foundation at quarterback, Ferentz decided to make the switch.

The move paid off for the Hawkeyes this season as McNutt turned into a possible No. 1 receiver. After a slow start, he took off in a hurry with 653 yards receiving and a team-best seven touchdowns.

Not only has he been able to find the red zone on numerous occasions, but he has also been the Hawkeyes' big play receiver throughout the season.

He caught a 92-yard touchdown pass to give the offense some momentum against Indiana. He caught a slant play to beat Michigan State as time expired. He also caught a pass over the head of an Ohio State defender to send the game into overtime.

While most players who switch positions take some time to adjust, McNutt adjusted almost immediately.

One of the things that helped him is learning the game as a quarterback. Because he was a quarterback, McNutt views the field as a quarterback would. He knows mismatches when he sees them and is able to break open a big play by seeing the bigger picture, not just the player covering him.

This has been a huge asset to the Hawkeyes this season and helped them directly win at least one game.

Down by four against Michigan State, with time left for one play from the seven-yard line, McNutt went back to the huddle and called a slant play in his direction. He told offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe that he knew he could get inside of the cornerback and make the catch. He executed the play perfectly, and Iowa completed a last minute comeback to stay undefeated.

But like all transitions, McNutt's switch to wide receiver didn't come without its challenges. He admitted being fatigued at times because he wasn't used to running around the whole game.

"The first challenge I really came across was stamina," he said. "I was kind of fatigued when I first started playing, then I was trying to get faster. I was a fast quarterback, but as a receiver, you're not like the fastest receiver and you have to deal with that."

But for the most part, the transition was very smooth.

While most quarterbacks don't have the tools they need to become a good wide receiver, McNutt is an all-around athlete, and his other sports helped him adjust. He wasn't just recruited for football, but also for baseball and basketball.

"In baseball, eye-hand coordination is key, and in basketball, going up for a rebound is just like going up for a catch."

As he continues to develop, McNutt will likely become one of the top receivers in the Big Ten, and maybe the country. He has the build, athletic ability, and intelligence to become a top collegiate player, and he may also have what it takes to play on Sundays.