Iowa's Ihmir Smith-Marsette avoids tackles during the game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

True freshman Smith-Marsette makes presence known

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By Courtney Baumann | courtney-baumann@uiowa.edu

AMES — It came down to the last play in Jack Trice Stadium, but Iowa proved it was a Hawkeye State in 44-41 overtime win over Iowa State on Sept. 9.

Quarterback Nate Stanley threw his fifth touchdown pass of the day, a 5-yarder, to win the game. His target, though, was new to the end zone.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette nabbed his second career touchdown to put the Hawkeyes up one last time to take home the Cy-Hawk Trophy with a diving grab on the right side to end the game.

The catch capped off an impressive day for the true freshman.

“It’s a play we put in during the week that we felt pretty good about. It’s like anything else — you hope you get the look that you want,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “You don’t always get it; sometimes you do. We got the look and executed them on that.”

Smith-Marsette caught 3 other passes from Stanley for 31 more yards, totaling 36 receiving on the day. He added 7 yards on the ground on one carry as well.

The last play of the game was not by happenstance. Ferentz and the players said the team had practiced it all week, and that moment was the opportune time to show it off.

Although true freshmen are not allowed to speak to media, Iowa’s Athletics Department released quotes from Smith-Marsette after the game.

“The last play was something we have been practicing hard in practice. It is a play that we know if we need something, we can go to it,” he said. “We were down at the goal line, so it was a perfect play to run. We knew exactly what we wanted out of it. They played the perfect coverage to go against it, and we executed.”

This week was really the first time Smith-Marsette showcased his talents in front of the crowd.

He touched the ball once in Iowa’s first game this season but fumbled and lost the ball after gaining a few yards on the ground.

Even with his struggles immediately out of the gate in Kinnick, Ferentz saw something special in Smith-Marsette and knew it would not be long before he shook off the hiccup and was back playing the way the coaches knew he could.

“I think it probably goes back to the first time we met him. There’s something about him, he’s got a spirit to him that we really like,” Ferentz said. “Intuitions aren’t always right, but sometimes you just feel like a guy’s a football mentality, and he certainly has that … He’s got a little spunk to him.”

Smith-Marsette was grateful for the belief the coaches had in him and the chance to get back on the field after last week.

“It shows that they believe in me,” he said. “Last week, I had a minor setback, but this week I came back, and they showed they believed in me, and I took advantage of it.”

Teammate Akrum Wadley can relate to Smith-Marsette in more ways than one.

Both are natives of New Jersey, and both are former members of the Weequahic football team. Plus, Wadley also had some struggles right off the bat with ball control as a freshman.

“Jersey, man. He’s really resilient. He’s a tough guy. He’s got a lot of heart, and just how he bounced back from last week. He kind of hated himself, but he’s a strong-minded guy,” Wadley said after the game. “Coach Brian [Ferentz] told him in practice he was going to come back to him, and he did. He said, ‘Don’t drop it a second time.’ “

Click below for more photos

The Iowa corn mascot suits up before the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

A cheerleader is seen during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

A military member is recognized after the National Anthem at the Cy-Hawk game in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes prepare to storm the field during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Anthony Nelson (98) and Barrington Wade (35) walk onto the field during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa kicker Miguel Recinos kicks a PAT during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa fullback Drake Kulick catches a sideline pass during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa linebacker Jose Jewell (43) tackles Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler (18) during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa defensive lineman Matt Nelson is seen on the line of scrimmage during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler celebrates a touchdown during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa State fan celebrates in the student section of Jack Trice Stadium during the Cy-Hawk game on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

The Iowa defensive line attempts to block a PAT by Iowa State during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Fans cheer and hold up an Iowa State flag during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Jake Gervase (30), Joshua Jackson (15), and Michael Ojemudia (11) run off the field during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley fields a block during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa and Iowa State linemen block each other during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa State marching band members take to the field during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)e

Iowa quarterbacks coach Ken O'Keefe talks with players during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

A member of the Iowa marching band cheers after a touchdown during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley narrowly avoids a block from Iowa State linebacker Willie Harvey during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley breaks a tackle during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley runs into the end zone during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa defensive back Michael Ojemudia breaks up a pass to Allen Lazard in the end zone during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back James Butler takes a handoff during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's James Butler is tackled by Iowa State defensive players during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley throws a pass during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Ihmir Smith-Marsette avoids tackles during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.  (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa linebacker Ben Niemann cools off on the sideline during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa cheerleaders and band members cheer from the stands during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette makes a diving catch in the end zone during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa cheerleaders run with flags after a touchdown during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa players celebrate after the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa players celebrate with the Cy-Hawk trophy during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley shakes hands with Iowa States' Willie Harvey during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

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