Reporters were waiting recently to interview pre-selected members of the Iowa football team when sophomore-to-be running back Damon Bullock walked by without hardly being noticed.
Bullock wasn’t on the interview list, and I wouldn’t have known it was him without one of my fellow scribes pointing it out.
That’s about to change, beginning Saturday when Iowa holds an open practice to mark the end of spring drills.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Bullock is expected to be under the spotlight as the new starting running back, a position he took over after Jordan Canzeri injured his knee in practice last Wednesday.
Fellow sophomore De’Andre Johnson now assumingly moves from third-team to second-team at running back. And help is on the way with high school seniors Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill set to join the team next fall.
Junior fullback Brad Rogers is another option at running back, as is walk-on Andre Dawson, who played at Cedar Rapids Washington before attending junior college.
But for now the starting position is Bullock’s to lose.
So that begs the question, who is he?
Bullock grew up in Baltimore and moved to Texas as an eighth-grader.
He attended Mansfield High School and rushed for more than 1,600 yards as a senior in 2010. He was named the most valuable offensive player in his district as a senior, his team’s most valuable player as a senior and one of the top 50 seniors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
As a senior, Bullock rushed for 248 yards in one game and also set a school record by scoring six touchdowns in a game.
And yet, every BCS school except Iowa passed on him, presumably because Bullock only played in three games during an injury-plagued junior season.
If it makes you feel any better Iowa fans, his injury was a broken collarbone and had nothing to do with either of his knees.
“I think that set back his recruitment,” Mansfield coach Jeff Hulme told HawkeyeInsider.com when Bullock signed a letter of intent with Iowa in February. “He didn’t have any junior film.
“All the Texas (college) coaches told me they like him, but they don’t have a spot for him. They filled up with early commitments.”
This isn’t the first time Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz took a chance on a recruit who nobody else at his level wanted.
Ferentz has thrived on doing that while at Iowa. And in some cases, it’s paid huge dividends, the most notable example being former all-America defensive back Bob Sanders, who despite being a star high school player in Erie, Penn., only had offers from Iowa and Ohio University.
Bullock, according to HawkeyeInsider.com, picked Iowa over offers from North Texas, Southeastern Oklahoma and Angelo State. He was one of the final pieces to the 2011 recruiting class.
“He belongs at the big-time level,” Hulme said of Bullock in February.
It’s encouraging that Bullock played high school football in Texas because we can assume that he faced quality competition on a regular basis.
It’s also encouraging that he led his high school team to an 8-2 record and to the playoffs as a senior after it finished 1-9 with him mostly injured as a junior.
And it’s encouraging the Iowa coaches thought enough of Bullock to move him to receiver as a true freshman last season and then played him right away because why do it if he can’t catch.
Marcus Coker was entrenched as the starting running back at the time, so it appeared the Iowa coaches were looking for ways to get Bullock on the field.
Now they don’t have to look for ways to do it.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football