It’ll take more than leading an average Iowa team in receiving yards for a season to please Tevaun Smith.
Smith did that last season with 596 receiving yards, but he doesn’t consider that an acceptable level of performance, especially with Iowa finishing just 7-6 overall.
“I have a lot of expectations for myself,” said Smith, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior-to-be from Toronto, Ontario. “I wasn’t satisfied with my last season. I felt that I could have done more. I like comparing myself to other receivers in the country and I want to do better than they do.
“So I’ll do whatever I can to do that. And hopefully, with this offense we have, it will help us not only win games, but individually help out the receivers.”
It remains to be seen whether the Iowa offense will change much with C.J. Beathard replacing Jake Rudock as the starting quarterback. Beathard has a stronger arm than Rudock and the hope is that Iowa will throw downfield more often during Kirk Ferentz’s 17th season as head coach.
“We’ll definitely try to make that happen,” Smith said of throwing downfield. “So hopefully, coach Ferentz gives us a chance to do that.”
Smith played the role of good teammate as he talked recently about life with Beathard and without Rudock. He respects both quarterbacks and was comfortable with either one lined up behind center.
“He has to do what he has to do,” Smith said of Rudock, who started 25 games for Iowa before losing the starting job to Beathard shortly after the TaxSlayer Bowl. “If he wasn’t comfortable here, he had to do what he had to do.”
The loss of Rudock means that Iowa doesn’t have an experienced backup quarterback on the roster. And it’s not as if Beathard has a wealth of experience, either, with just one career start.
But on the other hand, there is no longer a quarterback controversy now that Rudock has moved on and plans to transfer to Michigan for his senior season. Iowa used both quarterbacks against Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl and the results were disastrous as Tennessee cruised to a 45-28 victory.
“There is going to be more chemistry because there is not two quarterbacks playing in one game,” Smith said. “There is only going to be one quarterback that we have to worry about. We don’t have to worry about who’s coming in the next series.”
Smith believes that Beathard’s physical attributes will help the Iowa passing game evolve.
“C.J. is very versatile,” Smith said. “He can throw on the run and he can scramble and still throw the ball. We still have a lot of work to do. We still have all of spring and training camp.”
You could argue up to this point that Smith’s most recognizable moment as an Iowa receiver is a video of him catching footballs with one hand. The video, which shows Smith making 41 one-handed catches in 60 seconds, went viral and also reportedly set an unofficial world record.
New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., reportedly held the previous mark of 33 catches while filming a Visa commercial.
Smith wants to change that perception, but is running out of time with only one season of eligibility remaining.
Smith is starting to do everything for the last time as a senior-to-be. His final offseason now has Smith participating in spring practice for the last time as a Hawkeye.
It also has him feeling a sense of urgency.
“Yeah, I really do feel that,” Smith said.
Smith’s career statistics are solid, but far from spectacular. He has 70 career receptions for 937 yards and four touchdowns. He has shown flashes of brilliance and is arguably Iowa’s top returning playmaker on offense.
The next challenge for Smith is to become more consistent, somebody the team can rely on for each game.
And though he has lofty expectations for himself individually, Smith is more concerned about the big picture than how many catches he will have next season.
“I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win,” Smith said. “If I get 10 catches for 140 yards and lose the game, I’m not satisfied.”