Kirk Ferentz expects wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette to miss only one game after arrest

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette is expected to miss only Saturday’s home game against Michigan State, coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday in his first public comments since the senior was arrested early Sunday and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Smith-Marsette, who had a career-high seven catches in Saturday’s 21-20 Hawkeye home loss to Northwestern, was clocked driving 74 mph in a 30 mph zone and recorded a blood-alcohol level of .13 when he was pulled over at 1:30 a.m., an Iowa City police report said. The legal level is .08 or lower.

“It’s just a regrettable decision that he made. He’ll deal with it,” Ferentz said. “I’ve known Ihmir for four-plus years right now. He’s a tremendous person. He’s been a great team member. And me personally, I think this is very uncharacteristic of him and surprising.”

The standard punishment for a Hawkeye football player who is charged with OWI is one missed game. That was what star offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs received in 2018, in the most recent example at Iowa.

But there are other athletic department conditions that Smith-Marsette will have to meet before returning to action. Those may include performing community service and getting counseling. Ferentz said he believes Smith-Marsette will fulfill those obligations and be able to play Nov. 13 at Minnesota.

Iowa will be without starting wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, shown here picking up a first down against Northwestern, when it hosts Michigan State on Saturday. Smith-Marsette is serving a one-game suspension after being arrested for OWI on Sunday. He leads the Hawkeyes with 200 all-purpose yards through two games.

Smith-Marsette is practicing on Iowa’s scout team this week in preparation for an 11 a.m. Saturday meeting with the Spartans.

Iowa is 0-2 for the first time since 2000, and will be hurt by Smith-Marsette’s absence. Not only is he the best deep threat on the team, but he also is the premier kickoff returner in the Big Ten Conference.

Earlier:Smith-Marsette is the pulse of Iowa's offense, and he's eager to show it on the big stage

Charlie Jones, who has returned five punts for 45 yards this season, is listed as Iowa’s kickoff returner for Saturday’s game. Ivory Kelly-Martin is also typically stationed near the goal line on kickoffs.

Ferentz said sophomore Tyrone Tracy Jr. will seen an increased workload with Smith-Marsette out. Jones, who has yet to be targeted on a pass attempt, will also get his shot at wideout.

Tracy has four catches for 52 yards. Brandon Smith and Nico Ragaini have been the Hawkeyes’ other primary wide receivers this season as sophomore Spencer Petras takes over at quarterback.

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Smith-Marsette leads Iowa in all-purpose yards through two games with 200: 98 of them on four kickoff returns, 84 receiving and 18 on a pair of rushing attempts.

Tracy, a sophomore, is a versatile receiver who can play out wide or operate in the slot. He also has shown the ability to break big gains on jet sweeps, although he hasn’t been handed the football yet this season. Tracy caught 36 passes, averaging 16.4 yards, with three touchdowns last season. He also rushed six times for 39 yards and another score.

Tracy limped off the field at one point in the Northwestern loss, but did return. He hasn’t appeared to be 100% healthy, however, in either game to date.

Earlier Tuesday, the Hawkeyes lost one option at wide receiver when redshirt sophomore Calvin Lockett decided to enter the transfer portal. The Florida native hadn’t appeared in a game yet for Iowa, but he was in uniform for the season-opening road game at Purdue.

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.