Iowa Hawkeyes Prepare for 2010 with Full RB Stable
Cliches are often unavoidable in sports, so forgive me.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are no different from many other teams, as they will be dealing with the old "too many guys for one spot" problem. This fall, it's the running back position that has people wondering who the starter will be in Iowa City.
While head coach Kirk Ferentz knows how quickly the running back lineup can be decimated and holds that there are never too many good athletes available, jostling this group could be a challenge.
In all reality, predictions at this point can't hope to be completely accurate. When you're trying to guess the order of the Hawkeyes' running backs, the challenge gets significantly more daunting. No matter how it all shakes out in the end, though, Iowa's got talent at this position—Big Ten defenses beware!
With the transfer of the highly-touted Jeff Brinson , who suffered from a nagging foot injury last season and would have been one of four sophomores on the Hawkeyes' running back depth chart this year, Iowa's backs have a little more ability to move up the ladder.
Incoming freshmen Marcus Coker and DeAndre Johnson will likely redshirt this season. Coker has striking similarities with former Hawkeye bruiser Shonn Greene and DeAndre Johnson has already impressed head coach Kirk Ferentz. Johnson also suffered an ACL tear in his senior season at Monsignor Pace High School (Miami, Fla.) so there won't be any rush to get him on the field.
Then there's always spunky Paki O'Meara. Though he'll be a senior next season, O'Meara is going to find some difficulty breaking through to the top of the depth chart. He'll get some grunt work carries, no doubt, but he'll see most of his playing time on special teams.
Also looking at some quality special teams time will be redshirt freshman Brad Rogers. Rogers could surprise in the offseason, but I don't see him making any serious moves up the depth chart. But, hey, who knows?
Iowa's running backs are in no way devoid of stars, though. Returning starters Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher are poised to carry the load once again. Robinson will be a redshirt sophomore and Wegher a true sophomore this season.
Though they were inexperienced, the young guns showed they've got the talent needed last season, even if at times it was a struggle.
Iowa's rushing attack was 10th in the Big Ten averaging only 114 yards per game but they got the job done.
Robinson topped the 100-yard mark twice last year but was slowed as the season progressed due to injury.
When Robinson couldn't go, Wegher filled his shoes. The speedster recorded three 100-yard plus games, including 113 yards in the Hawkeyes' surprisingly dominant win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Many people have heard the rumors that Wegher could be in for a position change, but don't look for that to happen. He's already established himself as a more than capable back who has the flexibility to line up in the slot position if needed.
Ferentz and offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe could get creative with Wegher, but don't expect a position change.
As far as the running game goes, many might say Hawkeye fans' enthusiasm for this season is uncalled for, as the statistics tell a different story about Robinson and Wegher's successes last year.
That's where redshirt sophomore Jewel Hampton comes into play.
People may or may not have forgotten but a couple years ago, when Shonn Greene was tearing up the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes had an outstanding backup in Hampton. He was fast and featured some nifty moves that Greene, for the most part, chose to go without.
Just when defenders thought they had a chance to lick the bruises left by Greene, Hampton would come in and leave his unsuspecting opponents in the dust.
This prediction may be a little premature but don't be surprised if Hampton returns to practice healthy and puts a serious challenge in the ring for a No. 1 spot on the depth chart. I wouldn't be surprised if he comes out on top.
When it comes to Robinson and Wegher, I think it's neck and neck. Both backs have great upside they're better when their counterpart is healthy.
I've always been more intrigued by Wegher, but I think that's just his big play potential shining through. He'll definitely see some kick return action and he'll carry the ball plenty of times, too, but for now I like Robinson behind Hampton.
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