It has been a rough start to the year for Iowa wide receiver Diante Vines.
After looking like a breakout contender at the receiver position all offseason, a wrist injury in fall camp postponed his 2022 debut. Vines was one of many Hawkeyes entering the season banged up and the lack of depth behind he and others has really showed up thus far this season.
Vines made his debut against No. 2 Ohio State this past Saturday, and while he only caught one pass for five yards, it was great to see him back on the field. Finally, his name can be monitored once again as a potential playmaker for Iowa.
Between multiple injuries and a lack of cohesion and talent throughout the offense, the Iowa passing game has been really, really bad this season. This is not any new information to any Iowa fan. The Hawkeyes rank 122nd nationally in passing offense, averaging just 145.9 passing yards per game.
Fortunately, the team is starting to get healthier again and multiple receivers are starting to return to the lineup. Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz sounded hopeful about Vines’ potential contributions in his recent press conference.
“We’ll see. I’m hopeful we’ll see some impact. He’s a good football player. We’ve known that for a couple of years. Let me rephrase that. We’ve suspected it and we got him out there especially last spring and this summer until he busted that bone,” Ferentz said of Vines.
“It has been encouraging. He came in, just he’s just had such a crazy, unfortunate path of just injuries and it’s nobody can predict that. But it’s funny, I caught myself thinking about that last week. And I’m thinking about him in the same way as Logan Jones. You’re excited about him, excited what you see them do in practice. You catch yourself. This guy hasn’t played a game yet as a Hawkeye and the same with Logan coming into the season.
“Hasn’t played a game as a center, but yet he gave you a lot to be excited about watching him in practice. I felt the same with Diante. Hopefully he can help over the next five weeks, getting him and Nico (Ragaini) back and that should help Arland out there a little bit and getting Brody (Brecht) back working. He’s getting better every week.”
In an interview with Hawkeye Insider’s David Eickholt, Vines stressed the importance of trying to provide a jolt for this Hawkeye offense.
“Wherever they put me on the field, I’m just trying to provide a spark. Whenever I get the ball, I’m trying to be like a big play kind of person. Throughout fall camp, I was making bigger plays. I like to record yards after catch and stuff like that. I feel like in that kind of game, if I get quick hits, I should be able to do something with the ball. I just need to put trust in the plays that we call, my quarterbacks and do my job and everything will happen the way it’s supposed to,” Vines said.
In an offense that is struggling badly to get out of the gates, a playmaker who can make some big plays after the catch can go a long way. The quarterback can focus more on the fundamental things, knowing he has a receiver he can trust to make a play happen. Someone like Vines, if he proves to be the player the coaching staff was seeing in the offseason, can also provide a breath of fresh air to the entire offense, and possibly wake up the rest of the team.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Vines can return from his injury and hit the ground running, but his addition to the offense certainly cannot hurt. Literally any addition should be viewed as a positive to one of the worst offensive units in the country.
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