Iowa has three sophomore runningbacks with experience heading into fall — but Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz still isn’t resting easy about the backfield. Iowa saw two backs injured before the season started last year, and injuries during the season also left things a little thin.
Ferentz says he’ll feel good once they start playing games and everyone is healthy. Ferentz says it’s interesting that all three have one year of good experience and all three have played their best as the season went on and all played well in bowl games. “So we’re just hopeful that we can have all three out there and ready to go at game time,” Ferentz says. He says they haven’t decided on any type of rotation for the three yet.
Adam Robinson led Iowa in rushing last year as a redshirt freshman with 864 yards and five touchdowns while splitting time with Brandon Wegher. Robinson says it’d be nice to be the back who gets all the carries, but you have to do what works best overall.
Robinson says “That’s a tough thing, you’ve just got to be selfless, you’ve got to be all about the team, you know me and Brandon went through that last year.” He says you may feel like you’re getting into a groove and want to stay in, but you have to sacrifice for the team. Wegher says the fight for carries is friendly.
“Yeah, we’re all good friends, good competition, works well,” Wegher says. Jewel Hampton was injured last summer and redshirted the season. He will sit out the first game for disciplinary reasons, but says it’s going to be a good battle for playing time at runningback.
“We all know it’s competition out here, and we’re all looking forward to the competition,” Hampton says,”I don’t think any of us is going to shy away from it, we’re all going to give it our all and take it from there.”
Hampton says the competition is healthy for any position. “Oh definitely, it’s always good to have somebody on your…tail chasing you to get better, I think it’s going to push us to be the best person we can be,” Hampton says. As for last season, Robinson says there was a simple answer for his freshman success.
Robinson says the offensive line did a great job blocking and opening holes and without them he wouldn’t have had such a successful season. The sophomore from Des Moines says this fall camp is a little different after getting all the playing time as a freshman.
“It is nice to have a year of experience under my belt, I feel like everything is not new to me, and I’m not being caught off guard or anything like that,” Robinson explains. He says he feels more like he’s polishing what he learned and not having to learn the whole system. His runningmate from last year, Wegher, agrees.
“A lot of it is reading assignments, you have a direction you need to go, a person you need to read..it’s not all on the fly, I got assignments to read,” Wegher says. Wegher ran for 641 yards and set a freshman record with eight touchdowns last season — including the clinching score in the Orange Bowl that he says was a top highlight of his freshman year.
Hampton ran for 463 yards and seven touchdowns in his freshman year as a backup to Shon Greene.