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Iowa WR Matt VandeBerg keeps growing in importance from the sideline.

Jerminic Smith leaving Iowa only increases Matt VandeBerg’s importance, George Kittle delivers a stunner and more

The best way to start your day is right here at as we prepare you for everything you need to know about Iowa sports. We’ll share our Iowa Breakfast Club here with you at 8:30 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

So let’s get to it. Here is the Iowa Breakfast Club for Monday, May 15.

Iowa’s most important player

Teams don’t hand out Most Important Player Awards. But perhaps Iowa needs to think about having one in light of the news that WR Jerminic Smith is leaving the team.

Iowa’s wide receiver depth was already as thin as single-ply toilet paper. Losing Smith, who missed part of spring practice because of academic issues, is like finding only a few squares upon entering the bathroom.

Saying it’s not good is an understatement.

That makes Matt VandeBerg the Hawkeyes’ MIP, and it’s not even close. He likely had the title before the Smith news hit on Friday, but this only solidifies it. VandeBerg is the only known commodity at wide receiver — an established playmaker who earned honorable mention all-conference honors in 2015. But he’s also coming off two foot injuries in a six-month period.

Iowa needs VandeBerg to be healthy. He performed like a true No. 1 wide out before a broken left foot ended his season last September. He also missed spring practice after re-injuring his foot.

Two foot injuries in that short a span is a concern. The Hawkeyes can’t afford another injury setback with him. They must consider ensuring VandeBerg is in position to play every game one of the most important parts of the upcoming season.

Iowa saw what happened to the passing game without him last season. In a way, the Hawkeyes playing in a January bowl game with essentially a one-dimensional offense is kind of remarkable.

VandeBerg’s importance only increases with the team breaking in a new quarterback, not having enough returning scholarship receivers to run a five-wideout set, and relying on true freshmen on the perimeter.

There are plenty of questions with Iowa’s wide receivers. VandeBerg is the one answer. That’s why he’s the MIP as Iowa heads into the summer.

That’s George Kittle’s music

Former Iowa TE George Kittle is a huge wrestling fan. On Saturday, he entered the ring during what appears to be the end of a Southern Championship Wrestling Pro (SCW Pro) match. Kittle, a big Steve Austin fan, delivered a Stone Cold Stunner during the Quad Cities-based wrestling promotion’s show.

Now that’s a comeback

When anyone looks back on the 2017 Iowa baseball season, the game Sunday will be one of the first things brought up.

Not much happened in the 11-10 win against Ohio State. Only that:

  • Iowa trailed 9-2 after six innings.
  • The Hawkeyes scored 9 runs in the final three innings.
  • Robert Neustrom blasted a 446-foot walk-off, 2-run home run to cap the wild win.

The team will be talking about this game for years. So will those in attendance.

The comeback victory helped the Hawkeyes take two of three from the Buckeyes in the series. Iowa won 9-5 on Friday and lost 12-7 on Saturday.

The win also clinched a berth in the Big Ten Tournament for Iowa. The Hawkeyes (31-18, 13-8 Big Ten) are fifth in the league standings.

Top Eight in Big Ten Standings

Team Big Ten Record Winning Percentage
Nebraska 14-6-1 .690
Michigan 14-7 .667
Minnesota 12-6 .667
Maryland 15-9 .625
Iowa 13-8 .619
Indiana 12-8-1 .595
Purdue 10-11 .476
Northwestern 10-11 .476

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