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Don't expect Iowa running back job to be settled anytime soon
August 10, 2012 - Andy Heintz
Don't expect Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz to name a starting running back anytime soon. Fall camp just began and there are way too many unknowns to sort out in the meantime.
Iowa is loaded with youth at the position and has even moved a former tailback back to the position to add to the already jam-packed competition.
"We're going to coach the guys on the field," Ferentz said. "We've always done that regardless if it's an injury, discipline issue, anything like that. And we've got guys out there that are capable. I am not sure how it's going to play out yet. It's going to be decided here in the next couple months, and we'll just see how it goes. But the guys are working hard right now. They look capable out there, and we have a lot of work to do."
Sophomore Damon Bullock will get the first opportunity at the starting spot after fellow sophomore De'Andre Johnson was booted off the team last week. Sophomore Jordan Canzeri also likely won't play this season after tearing his ACL during spring practice.
Other candidates in line to battle for the starting role include true freshman Greg Garmon, Barkley Hill and Nate Meier as well as JUCO transfer Andre Dawson and junior Brad Rogers, who started at tailback but most recently played fullback.
Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg has the most returning rushing yards of any healthy player on the roster. He rushed for 61 yards last season. Bullock got a few carries early, but former Hawkeye Marcus Coker handled most of the duties last season before transferring this offseason.
Garmon came to Iowa as a four-star prospect and is expected to be a big part of Iowa's future in year's to come. But is he ready for the spotlight this year? How about Hill, who dominated Iowa Class 4A defenses last year for Cedar Falls.
Hill was the favorite among the Big Ten Network crew who was in town this past week for their annual preseason tour. Hill is big and not afraid to mix it in inside the tackles. He would pair well with the speedy Garmon, who will rely more on making defenders miss.
"I think we have guys that are capable, and right now we just have to piece that together," Ferentz said. "We only have had four practices so far. Everybody looks pretty good right now, but you'd expect that. Over the course of time usually the picture becomes a bit more clear, and then the other obvious part of it, and the most important part of it, is how players perform in games. And that's something you just can't simulate in practice."
If Bullock cannot hold up to the freshmen's abilities, expect either Garmon or Hill to be next in line. But that does not mean Meier, Dawson or Rogers won't end up in the mix.
Right now, Bullock is listed as the starter and Rogers as the backup on the depth chart. But that is pretty true to Ferentz form as he likes to start with the experienced and go from there.
"We'll just see how it plays out," Ferentz said. "I think all of them right no seem to be learning well and are doing some good things, but it's really early right now. We've got a lot more to throw at the them, and they haven't been tackled yet, either."
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