IOWA CITY, Iowa – Last year at this time, Jerminic Smith was running routes for South Garland (TX) High. Saturday, Iowa’s true freshman started his first college game at wild Wisconsin.
A 6-foot-1, 180-pound wide receiver who turns 19 on Monday, Smith rose to the top of the depth chart when senior Tevaun Smith suffered a knee injury against North Texas on Sept. 26. Jerminic Smith remained on the top line of the two-deep as the Hawkeyes prepared for this weekend’s Homecoming game against Illinois (11 a.m. CT, ESPNU).
Jerminic Smith emerged from a pack of three true freshmen receivers with his play in August camp. Adrian Falconer also has had his redshirt removed but did not see action at Wisconsin. Emmanuel Ogwo has yet to get on the field and likely will red shirt.
"(Jerminic Smith) has done a great job so far," Hawkeye Quarterback C.J. Beathard said. "He’s a smart guy. He knows when he’s hot and he knows when to break routes at certain times. He’s really progressed as a player and done a great job emerging as a guy we can trust and put out there."
True freshmen are prohibited from speaking with reporters per team rules. The team’s home page can conduct interviews with them.
“The first game I got a couple snaps and it was fun. I was excited and a little nervous,” Smith told the site on Sept. 17. “It’s amazing. I can’t describe the feeling.”
Beathard targeted Smith with a pair of deep passes at Wisconsin. They failed to hook up.
"I just feel like some of that was how the game was. Offensively, we weren’t doing great," Beathard said. "We’ve been working a lot in practice this week and getting on the same page and I think it’s going to be better this week. Nothing is going to be perfect but you can expect to see a better offensive show, hopefully, because it wasn’t great on Saturday."
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz was asked Tuesday if Smith pulled up on a few routes and if that was due to inexperience.
"It is. And he’s going to be a really good player," Ferentz said. "He and Jake Hillyer are our two guys out there and they’ll do well.
"We’re a better team with Tevaun. I’m not going to sit here and tell you no. We knew that in August that we’re not going to go through unscathed."
Jerminic Smith caught 76 passes for 1,207 yards and 13 touchdowns as a prep senior. He hauled in 162 balls for 2,635 yards and 31 scores in his career at South Garland. Smith has yet to catch a college pass.
INJURY REPORT: The timeline on Tevaun Smith’s return remained the same as Saturday when Ferentz said the Toronto native would be out until at least after the bye week. They hoped to have him back for the Oct. 31 contest against Maryland.
Ferentz revealed Tuesday that Smith hurt his knee on his final catch against North Texas on Sept. 26. His momentum on that play carried him across the sideline and into the bench.
The outlook appeared better for the other two players who didn’t make the Wisconsin trip. Ferentz said that offensive lineman Boone Myers and running back Derrick Mitchell Jr. could be on the field Saturday against Illinois.
"They’re both kind of day by day. We’ll see how that progresses as the week goes on but I wouldn’t want to speculate at this given point," Ferentz said.
Myers, who started the team’s first four games at left tackle, left the North Texas contest about midway through with what appeared to be a arm/shoulder injury. As he returned to the sideline after sustaining the injury, his left arm was dangling. He left the field at game’s end in street clothes.
Ferentz said on Tuesday that Mitchell Jr. sustained an injury to an "upper extremity" during last Wednesday’s practice. He’s returned to practice but the coach hadn’t seen enough to this point that told him his sophomore could play in a game.
SOCIALLY SPEAKING: Ferentz has banned his players from using Twitter for years, in and out of season. They are permitted to use Facebook, Instagram and other forms of social media.
The Iowa Coach hinted Tuesday that the Twitter restriction could be lifted but it would be after the season, at the earliest.
"I’m not doing it right now, but in the off season I’ll think about that again one more time," Ferentz said. "It’s like your own kids at home. At some point they’re going to be out after midnight. At some point they’re going to drive cars. At some point they’re going to do all those things that you worry about. And so how have you prepared them."
Before people become too excited about the possibility of being able to interact with their favorite Hawkeyes on Twitter, the coach sounded like a large part of him still thinks it’s a bad idea.
"I’ve just read so many of those things where a guy tweets something or puts it out there in public and then four hours later issues this nice, long, elaborate apology that somebody else wrote for them, and it’s usually pretty disingenuous," he said. "I hate to see one of our guys be in that situation, because usually the things that they blurt out are not becoming, and then usually the followups are even less flattering, so it’s just like why do that.
"I’m just not sure it’s going to be when they’re playing for us. That’s all. When they graduate, they can have at it. Go be a social media star. It’s a great life out there. So I’ve been told."
QUICK-HITTERS: True freshman James Daniels, who’s played exclusively at left guard this season, warmed up at right tackle before the Wisconsin game. With Myers out, Daniels is a possibility to slide outside, Ferentz said…Illinois has won three Big Ten games in a row, dating back to last season, and four of its last six. Prior to that, the Illini had dropped 24 of 25…Illinois Wide Receiver Geronimo Allison, who played at Iowa Western, leads the Big Ten in receptions (32) and receiving yardage (453)…Bill Cubit, who stepped in as the Illini head coach a week before the season when Tim Beckman was fired, ran the Western Michigan program that defeated the Hawkeyes in the ’07 regular-season finale at Kinnick Stadium. The loss kept Iowa from the postseason.