Tracy Wants To Be 'Electric' Company

Iowa's Tyrone Tracy (3) tries to escape two Minnesota defenders. (Jeffrey Becker/USA Today Sports)

John Bohnenkamp

Tyrone Tracy Jr., has always talked about being “electric.”

The definition, the Iowa redshirt freshman wide receiver said, is simple.

His numbers tell his voltage.

Tracy has 34 receptions for 569 yards this season. His average of 16.7 yards per catch is the best among the Hawkeyes’ wide receivers. His touchdown reception of 75 yards against Wisconsin is the longest reception of the season for Iowa.

You want electric? Go back to Iowa’s 23-19 win over Minnesota two weeks ago, when Tracy caught a 12-yard pass from Nate Stanley along the left sideline, spun away from a Minnesota defender, and raced another 15 yards before being brought down.

Or consider that three of Stanley’s 10 longest passes this season have gone to Tracy, more than any other receiver.

All of that, Tracy said, goes back to being “electric.”

“‘Electric,’ for me personally, it’s a person who gets the ball and does something with it,” he said. “Scoring touchdowns, or making explosive plays, play after play. It’s making play after play after play, and that’s when the coaches know, when Number 3 gets the ball, he’s going to do something with it. That’s when the crowd knows, when Number 3 is on the field, he’s going to do something with it.

“It’s catching a 5-yard pass, and taking it 80 yards, that’s being electric.”

Brandon Smith’s ankle injury that has kept him out of all but one play over the last four games has opened an outside receiver’s spot to Tracy.

It’s made him a better receiver.

“Tyrone is probably on a little faster track because he's getting a chance to play more due to Brandon's absence,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.

“I had to focus in on my fundamentals a lot more, Tracy said. “Brandon, he’s a great player. I feel like if he didn’t get hurt, he would have had a really big season.”

Instead, it’s Tracy’s season. He came to Iowa having played running back, wide receiver and defensive back at Decatur Central (Ind.) High School.

“There was a lot of talk about me being a running back, or a wide receiver,” said Tracy, who said playing both spots helped him learn different pass routes.

Iowa was deep at running back, especially with the addition of freshman Tyler Goodson, who has started the last two games.

“T-Good came, he took the spotlight,” Tracy said, laughing. “He can go ahead and have it. I passed the torch to him.”

Tracy has worked on everything he needs to be an effective wide receiver. It’s about getting stronger, being quicker off the line, fighting off defensive backs.

“I try to get faster,” he said. “That’s the main part for me. I feel like I’m pretty fast for now. But I feel like if I can get faster, and quicker, that would be next-level stuff.”

You want “electric”? Tracy said he, fellow redshirt freshman Nico Ragaini, and junior Max Cooper sometimes work on one-hand catches before and after practice.

“Max has really good hands,” Tracy said with another laugh. “So does Nico. But I’m up there. It’s not horrible.”

Smith is questionable for Friday’s game at Nebraska, but should be back for Iowa’s bowl game. That would move Tracy inside as a slot receiver.

He’s OK with wherever he’s at.

“I feel like, wherever I can get the ball in my hands, that’s where I can be the most effective,” Tracy said. “If that’s the slot, that’s the slot. If it’s out wide, it’s out wide. In our offense right now, I feel like me, moving around, is going to have a hard time on defense to navigate where I’m going to be at every play. It’s hard for them to game-plan on me.”