20 Hawkeyes For 2020: Brandon Smith

John Bohnenkamp

Brandon Smith tied for the Iowa lead in touchdown receptions last season, was third in receptions, and tied for third in receiving yardage.

Imagine the kind of season he could have had by playing all 13 games.

The wide receiver, a junior last season, played in just nine games — actually, to be fair, just eight full games and one play in the ninth — because of an ankle injury.

Before he went out, Smith was one of the key components in Iowa's passing game, and was at his most productive when he went out with his injury in the Hawkeyes' win over Purdue.

Smith had a career-high nine receptions for 106 yards that day against the Boilermakers, including a 30-yard reception. But it was on his final catch that day that Smith went out.

Smith did not play at all in Iowa's games at Wisconsin and Nebraska, and at home against Illinois. His one play during that final stretch came in the Hawkeyes' win over Minnesota.

With time to heal between the end of the regular season and Iowa's bowl appearance, Smith came back to have four catches for 32 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown catch, in the Hawkeyes' victory over USC in the Holiday Bowl.

Smith's production has been steady throughout his career — he had 28 catches for 361 yards as a sophomore — and last season he was heading for impressive numbers before that injury.

Iowa's receiving group is impressive this season, with the top four pass-catchers from last season — Smith, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Nico Ragaini and Tyrone Tracy — coming back. With an inexperienced quarterback, that's going to be key.