Head coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed Saturday during Iowa's open scrimmage that sophomore running back Brandon Wegher has left the team to deal with personal issues.
Ferentz hinted that Wegher might be back in the near future. The Iowa coach said he has talked to the sophomore this week and has left the door open for a return.
“Personally, I can’t imagine him not coming back,” Ferentz said after a the scrimmage. “But you never know.”
The Iowa coach declined to detail the nature of the personal issues.
“We all have periods in our lives when we reflect a little bit,” the head coach reminded. “That’s probably pretty much where he’s at right now.”
Wegher rushed for 641 yards and eight touchdowns in 2009, including a 30-yard touchdown run during Iowa's Orange Bowl victory. He was expected to contend for starter at running back.
Hawkeye Nation's Jon Miller thinks Wegher stands a good chance of being available for Iowa’s season opener against Eastern Illinois.
"All are hopeful and optimistic this will happen, and I believe Ferentz’s words spell a greater likelihood of that happened," Miller explains. Having covered Hawkeye sports for over a decade, Miller has a good way of picking out the finer points in Ferentz's dialectic mannerisms.
Cedar Rapids Gazette writer Marc Morehouse asked quarterback Ricky Stanzi about the situation after the scrimmage.
"We'd love to have him, obviously," Stanzi told Morehouse. "He was a great player last year but, ya know, if he's not here we understand we have got to move on and go to the next thing. We gotta keep playing with the guys we have."
Stanzi's philosophy is to focus on the hand the team is dealt, rather than wondering about the what-ifs.
"We gotta keep moving," Stanzi explained. "That's our best chance of winning."
For now, sophomore Adam Robinson looks to be the starter for Iowa's opening game against Eastern Illinois. Sophomore Jewel Hampton is the likely No. 2 running back on the team, but will sit out the opener due to a one-game suspension.
That means the current No. 2 back for the Hawkeyes against the Panthers is none other than senior Paki O'Meara.