This Sunday features one former Hawkeye suiting up to play in Super Bowl LVII. Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette will take the field with the Kansas City Chiefs for a chance to become a world champion. This year’s Super Bowl between the Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles could mark the 13th different NFL franchise to win a Super Bowl with a former Hawkeye on the roster.
Smith-Marsette’s Journey to Iowa
Smith-Marsette played receiver for the Hawkeyes from 2017 to 2020. Out of high school, Smith-Marsette was a low three-star recruit from Newark, New Jersey. He received interest from several east-coast schools including Temple, Boston College, and Rutgers. Smith-Marsette originally committed to play for the Scarlet Knights in 2016. However, he decommitted from Rutgers after starting to gain interest from other Big Ten schools. Minnesota and Iowa both hosted Smith-Marsette on official visits and extended offers. The wideout briefly committed to play for the Gophers in January of 2017. He flipped his decision to Iowa on National Signing Day.
Once he arrived in Iowa City, his talent was quickly recognized. He was one of the rare true freshman players to start for the Hawkeyes, something head coach Kirk Ferentz typically does not do. He started Iowa’s week two game in Ames in his true freshman season where he caught two touchdowns. That included the game-winning score in overtime. In his four-year career in Iowa City, Smith-Marsette caught 14 touchdown passes for 1,587 total yards on 110 receptions. He added four touchdowns and 265 yards on the ground as his speed was utilized in the run game frequently.
Smith-Marsette also excelled on special teams. The New Jersey native returned kickoffs in all of his four seasons at Iowa. On 53 returns, he tallied 1,525 yards and two touchdowns. His long touchdown return was 98 yards and came against USC in the 2019 Holiday bowl. Iowa won that game 49-24 behind Smith-Marsette’s three total touchdowns.
Career in the League
Smith-Marsette was selected in the fifth round at 158th overall to the Minnesota Vikings in the 2021 NFL Draft. He played eight games during his rookie season and caught two touchdowns. On August 31st of this past season, he was waived from the Vikings and quickly picked up by the Chicago Bears. In Chicago, he recorded just one reception for 15 yards and was subsequently waived one month later. The Chiefs signed him to their practice squad in late October. For the team’s final regular season game, Smith-Marsette was elevated to the active roster where he remains for Super Bowl LVII.
Former Hawkeyes in the Super Bowl
The NFL career path can be tricky for players once they start bouncing around to different teams. However, Smith-Marsette has found some late-season stability in Kansas City. His landing spot has led him to a Super Bowl roster with a chance to earn a ring. Smith-Marsette’s position with the Chiefs makes 18 of the last 19 Super Bowls in which a Hawkeye has suited up for play. Tim Dwight was the last former Hawkeye wide receiver to play in a Super Bowl. Against the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII, Dwight returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Though unlikely, Smith-Marsette could join Dwight as the only two Hawkeyes to ever accomplish that feat.
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