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Iowa football: Scanning the tailback field

[ 1 ] March 30, 2012 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa running backs coach Lester Erb was in the middle of his press conference Wednesday when the topic suddenly turned from veterans to incoming freshmen.

“When you recruit guys, they see an opportunity that they’re going to come in and have a chance to play, and fortunately over the past couple years, we’ve been able to sell that,” he said.


With Thursday’s news that projected starting tailback Jordan Canzeri would miss the season after tearing an ACL during non-contact practice work Wednesday, Erb’s pitch hit home.

“There’s going to be opportunities for guys,” he said.

True sophomore-to-be Damon Bullock inherits the position Canzeri inherited from early-departures Marcus Coker and Mika’il McCall, making the Hawkeyes’ “next-man-in” slogan more than just a cliché.

He’s the current likely starter Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois at Chicago’s Soldier Field despite just 10 career carries for 20 yards.

Sophomore De’Andre Johnson moves to No. 2 – after rushing 18 times for 79 yards as a redshirt freshman in 2011.

After that – and assuming Brad Rogers stays at fullback — candidates on the up-next list haven’t even attended their final high school proms.

Incoming freshmen Greg Garmon of Erie, Pa., and Barkley Hill of Cedar Falls will get  crash courses when they hit campus in June. Their learning tempo will increase when practice resumes in August.

“Both of them are a little bit bigger backs,” Erb said of the fall freshmen. “Greg is more of a slasher, but he shows he can get downhill and run tough.

“Barkley had a tremendous career up there in Cedar Falls, and we’re excited to get him in here.

“Both guys are going to have a chance to come in here and compete. I think that was attractive to both.”



Who: Damon Bullock

Size: 6-0, 195

From: Mansfield, Texas

College experience: Rushed 10 times for 20 yards as a true freshman last season while moving between tailback and receiver. His biggest game was seven carries for 18 yards against Louisiana-Monroe.


Who: De’Andre Johnson

Size: 5-8, 200

From: Miami, Fla.

College experience: Rushed 18 times for 79 yards last season as a redshirt freshman. His career bests were against Tennessee Tech – eight rushes for 32 yards.

Who: Greg Garmon

Size: 6-1, 200

From: Erie, Pa.

College experience: None.

Resume: The freshman-to-be had 2,859 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns during his high school career, including 2,275 and 20 touchdowns the past two seasons.

Who: Barkley Hill

Size: 6-0, 210

From: Cedar Falls

College experience: None.

Resume: Another fall freshman, Hill rushed for 6,000 yards and 89 touchdowns in three seasons, including 2,493 yards and 40 touchdowns on 316 carries in 2011.

To pass Freshman Running Back-101:

“It depends how well they can pick up the system, and how well they can hold the ball and how well they protect the quarterback, and that’s not the end of our evaluation,” running backs coach Lester Erb said.

“It really comes down to the transition that they make into college, because, obviously, the game is going to be faster.

“We’re going to demand more of them from a maturity standpoint. We have got to see how all of those things factor in.” 



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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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