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Thursday, January 13, 2011
No NFL surprises for Iowa juniors

By Adam Rittenberg

Iowa will miss the playmaking prowess of safety Tyler Sash, but it's hard to fault No. 9 for making the jump to the NFL draft.

Meanwhile, Hawkeyes juniors Shaun Prater and Marvin McNutt made wise choices to return for their senior seasons in Iowa City.

There were no major surprises for Iowa's three juniors considering the NFL draft.

Sash, who turns 23 in May, seemed like a good bet to make the jump after starting three seasons at strong safety for Iowa. No Big Ten defensive back made more game-changing plays in the past two seasons than Sash, who leaves Iowa with 13 career interceptions and a team record in interception return yards. Although he didn't have a monster year in 2010, he still finished third on the team with 79 tackles and had two interceptions.

Although McNutt certainly has potential to play at the next level, he didn't seem likely to pass up his senior year. He'll be Iowa's featured receiver as a senior this coming season, and only has been a full-time receiver for two years. When a receiver like Michael Floyd eschews the draft for another year in college, it's probably a good idea for McNutt to do the same.

Prater was the swing guy for Iowa. There had been some buzz he would make the jump to the NFL after a strong junior season, but he opted to remain with Iowa. With both starting safeties (Sash and Brett Greenwood) departing, Iowa will need big performances in 2011 from both Prater and fellow cornerback Micah Hyde.