IOWA CITY — It didn’t take Nate Stanley long to make at least one connection with one of his newest receiving targets.
Iowa’s senior quarterback sees a little of the consistency Nick Easley brought to the field over the past two seasons for the Hawkeyes as he begins throwing passes in Oliver Martin’s direction.
The Michigan transfer has been on campus for just over a week and Stanley sees why Martin was regarded as one of the nation’s top receiver recruits during his record-setting all-state prep career at Iowa City West.
“He’s fast, has great hands,’’ Stanley said. “I haven’t thrown with him that much yet, but he reminds me a lot of Nick, kind of the same body type. Nick had great production here, so maybe he can do something like that.’’
Easley led the Hawkeyes in receptions the past two seasons, totaling 103 catches from the slot position after arriving at Iowa from Iowa Western Community College.
While Martin’s eligibility for the upcoming season remains undetermined — he has applied for a waiver from the NCAA which would make him eligible this fall and bypass the typical one-year period transfers must sit out — the slot position is one where the Hawkeyes have more questions than answers at the moment.
Redshirt freshmen Nico Ragaini and Tyrone Tracy, both coming off of productive spring practices, are currently competing at the position Easley filled a year ago.
“It’s a big spot in our passing game,’’ Stanley said. “You just push it down the field, so it is big for us to find someone who can produce there.’’
Martin, who caught 11 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown last season as a redshirt freshman with the Wolverines, could also factor into the mix next season if he receives the waiver.
For now, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound receiver’s focus is centered around getting to know his new teammates.
Offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs compared the arrival of Martin and two other transfer receivers who will join the program initially as walk-ons, Buffalo’s Charlie Jones and Central Michigan’s Jack Combs, to new students showing up at a new school.
“Everybody is pretty welcoming, but it’s still like, who is the new guy? What’s he about? It’s like when somebody moves into a new school district,’’ Wirfs said. “Oliver’s kind of a quiet guy, but he knows a few of the Iowa City guys on the team. He’s settling in. He knows the campus, the town, so he has that going for him.’’
From the limited amount of time he has spent with Martin, Stanley likes what he has seen from him and welcomes him to the mix of options that Iowa could have at receiver for the upcoming season.
“Really excited that he’s here,’’ Stanley said. “If he’s eligible, he can contribute for us.’’
Stanley likes the way Martin seems to be focusing on adjusting to what Iowa coaches want from him.
“He’s responded to the way the coaches have taught him. He’s very personable. He listens,’’ Stanley said. “He really wants to be the best he can be. He’s going to listen to whatever criticism or feedback he gets. That’s necessary for him to get there.’’