Iowa CITY, Iowa - It's good to know things have been going well at Iowa's running back position. No, really, it has.
Last season, Marcus Coker barreled for 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns. He only trailed Wisconsin star Monte Ball in Big Ten rushing, and he did it as a true sophomore. The total on the ground also ranked fourth all-time during a single season at Iowa.
Starting back Adam Robinson rushed for 941 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns in 10, 2010 games. The year before, the Des Moines native carried the ball for 834 yards (4.6 YPC) and five scores in 11 contests as a red-shirt freshman freshman. During that campaign, true freshman Brandon Wegher toted the pigskin for 641 yards and eight TDs.
In '08, leading rusher Shonn Greene won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back. His caddy, true freshman Jewel Hampton, added 463 yards (5.09 YPC) and seven touchdowns.
That's a pretty good four-year run for the Hawkeye backs. It'd be even better if any of them still were in Iowa City. All of them outside of Greene would have have eligibility for this season had they not left the program for various reasons.
As a result, Iowa enters camp searching for a new starting running back. True sophomore Jordan Canzeri, who was listed No. 1 going into the spring and started in the Insight Bowl, tore his ACL back in late March. There's an outside chance he could return in '12 but that likely would be late in the season.
True sophomore Damon Bullock, who began last season as a wide receiver, comes into August practice atop the depth chart. Redshirt sophomore De'Andre Johnson probably will be the back-up. Whether or not Iowa opens the season with that duo 1-2 is anyone's guess in mid-July.
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz has said since the spring that he expects contributions from true freshmen Barkley Hill and Greg Garmon. The latter pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia in July back home in Erie, PA.
Scout.com ranked Garmon (6-2, 200) as the nation's 15th best running back for the 2012 class. Hill rushed for 2,493 yards and 40 touchdowns as a senior. His 89 career TDs on the ground are an Iowa high school record.
Iowa keeps getting up off the ground when dealt a blow to the running backs. The Hawkeyes will need to do it again.
There's talent. It's also one of the positions where younger players can excel.
Look for Greg Davis to utilize his running backs in the passing game more than did his predecessor, Ken O'Keefe. Garmon and Bullock are especially good at catching the ball.
The group also has the luxury of having a steamroller at fullback with Brad Rogers. Recovered from a heart condition, the Ohio native also can run it and catch it.