IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Don Shumpert led all University of Iowa players in receiving yardage when the senior caught two passes for 69 on Nov. 9 during a 38-14 bowl-clinching win at Purdue.
The first reception by Shumpert went 34 yards and was the biggest play of a nine-play, 90-yard scoring drive -- the longest of the season for the Hawkeyes. The second was good for 35 yards -- and once again -- it highlighted a drive that not only culminated in a touchdown, but also put Iowa ahead, 31-7, midway through the fourth quarter.
When asked for his favorite play of the game, Shumpert looked beyond both acrobatic grabs.
"It wasn't the two catches, it was the fumble recovery," Shumpert said.
The play of which Shumpert is most proud came early in the third quarter with Iowa leading, 14-7. The Hawkeyes had just stopped a Purdue drive at its own 29 when Raheem Mostert fumbled the ball over to Iowa. On the next play, Hawkeye running back Jordan Canzeri burst through a hole for a 20-yard gain, but the football squirted out near the Boilermaker bench. Shumpert dove on the ball, knocking his wind out in the process.
"That could have changed field position if Purdue got it," Shumpert said.
But thanks to the 6-foot-3 native of St. Louis, the Hawkeyes maintained control. Seven plays later Mark Weisman scored a touchdown from four yards to put Iowa ahead by two touchdowns.
"Shump is kind of a quiet guy," UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "He works hard every day and it's good to see him involved. He made some heads-up plays."
In typical Jake Rudock fashion, the UI quarterback spread the wealth of his 12 pass completions Saturday to seven receivers. Shumpert's total leaves him with 12 catches for 166 yards in nine games this season (he missed the Northwestern game because of injury).
"He has been doing a good job," Rudock said. "He is doing a great job understanding what each play call means, where to run, and the best way to get there."
It wasn't until his third year in the program that Shumpert compiled more receptions than tackles in a season. During his first two seasons, Shumpert played in eight games and watched from the sidelines in 18 others.
"As a player you have ups and downs, but you have to keep pushing," Shumpert said. "I know I'm capable of helping my team win so I kept pushing and eventually good things happened."
Shumpert opened his junior season of 2012 with two catches during a win against Northern Illinois. He followed that with a career-high four-catch performance against Iowa State, but Shumpert didn't have a reception over the final 10 games.
He started the 2013 season with a career-long catch of 37 yards against Northern Illinois. After sitting out Week 8, Shumpert has been more valuable than ever. He had two receptions for 35 yards against Wisconsin on Nov. 2, and he added two more against the Boilermakers.
"Any way I can help my team win is always a good thing," Shumpert said. "This was a big team win, I contributed, and I was happy to do that."
Iowa's 38-14 victory at Purdue gave the Hawkeyes six wins and made them bowl eligible for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons.
"I can't say enough about our seniors," Ferentz said.
Seniors like Shumpert, who are making the most of their final three games.