‘He sought us out’: Former Hawkeye, NFL player Marvin McNutt joins Chief Nation

When Keokuk’s new head football coach, Marvin McNutt, was asked “why Keokuk?” He answered, “one of my favorite quarterbacks is from here, James Vandenberg.” Vandenberg is a Keokuk High School graduate and former teammate at University of Iowa. He added “I also recruited from here for Coe [College], these kids are special and so is this area.”

McNutt has been hired as head varsity football coach for the Keokuk Chiefs for the 2024 season. The University of Iowa football star and former NFL player started his career at Iowa as a quarterback and transitioned to become the all-time leader in receiving touchdowns and yardage, single season and career, while playing with Vandenberg.

“He sought us out,” Zach Summers, KHS Athletic & Activities Director, said. “And he knows our kids by name.” This was clear when McNutt mentioned that he was so excited to see senior football player Diego Garcia again, he had met him seven months ago while recruiting. 

At the introductory press conference at KHS on Friday, Feb. 23, McNutt stayed afterward to continue to talk with the varsity, junior varsity, and Keokuk Middle School football players that attended. McNutt is no stranger to the big time spotlight, but his smile was the brightest talking one-on-one and shaking each student’s hand. 

“This is good for the program, it’s going to benefit us a lot and push us over the edge so that we can get as far as we want,” Cayden King, sophomore football player, said. Senior football player Julio Akinyooye was invited along with all seniors by McNutt to come back anytime to train and Julio said, “I think this is amazing, I feel like they are going to do big things and this is going to be the start of a winning culture. And I want to add that I’m also very grateful for the opportunities that [former head] Coach Robert’s gave us.”

The players were noticeably excited to get the chance to ask McNutt their own questions about next season. His grin widened when he was asked about conditioning and he said the players were going to work hard and have fun.

“My coaching is going to be a lot like [University of] Iowa,” McNutt said. “Coach Doyle taught me a lot.” However, McNutt wanted to be clear that he is shooting high in his goals for Keokuk and that he wants to win a championship and he got really excited when he said, “I’m not going to just coach you like high school or college players, I’m going to coach you for the NFL.”

As a family man himself, he and his wife Brittney have five children, which is another reason that he chose Keokuk, due to  its proximity to his hometown in the St. Louis area, “it is right between home and [the University of] Iowa,” he added that his parents are excited and planning to come to games, “you might end up having a McNutt family section.” 

The only person that might be more excited than McNutt to be a part of Chief Nation, is his eight-year-old son, “my son is excited to be a part of it here and to be with me on the field and he can do that here.”

McNutt responded to another question where he stressed his belief in being a multi-sport athlete, while playing for Hazelwood Central High School, he was a wide receiver and started playing football in his sophomore year, but he was an All-State athlete in football, baseball and basketball. 

While at Iowa, he was the team captain in 2011 and on Kirk Ferentz’ Leadership committee from 2007-11. As well as a two-time ALL B1G Ten Wide Receiver and won B1G Ten Receiver of the year in 2011. He then was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round, pick #194 of the 2012 NFL Draft. McNutt played three seasons in the NFL continuing his Career with the Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and Washington Commanders.

He started his coaching career as the head coach of the Cedar Rapids Titans of the Indoor Football League (IFL) for the 2017 season and then the general manager in 2018. He then went on to serve as the Coe wide receiver coach until 2022, having an All-Conference wide receiver in his first two seasons where he recruited from the Keokuk area.

And now he is a Keokuk Chief, “that guy right there is really excited to have a ‘K’ hat on because of you guys,” Summers said, referencing the players. McNutt couldn’t agree more, he said, “let’s see where we can take this program, we will shoot for the moon and land next to the stars.”