Hawkeyes Hosting JUCO Running Back

Iowa running backs Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock will exhaust their college eligibility in next month's TaxSlayer Bowl. The Hawkeye coaches are looking to fill the void left by the two outgoing seniors. They saw something they liked in Navarro College's Ke'aun Kinner and offered him a scholarship. The Texas native is set to visit the Big Ten school this month and could commit.

Scouting a high school game in Texas recently, Iowa Assistant Bobby Kennedy was chatting with a coach from Navarro College. The Hawkeye representative talked about his team's need for a running back.

Iowa was searching the prep ranks. The JUCO coach provided another option.

Navarro Running Back Ke'aun Kinner recently had captured Southwest Junior College Football Conference MVP honors after rushing for 1,696 yards this fall. He totaled more than 200 yards in three separate games, including 270 against Trinity Valley.

Kennedy asked Navarro to send film of Kinner to Hawkeye Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and Running Backs Coach Chris White.

"As soon as they saw it, they loved him," Navarro Head Coach Brian Mayper said.

The relationship moved fast. Iowa offered a scholarship to Kinner and he set up an official visit for this weekend. Mayper said an impressive trip could lead to his running back committing to the Big Ten program.

"They think he would be a great back for their system," Mayper said. "We're known as a power team. We line up a fullback and they got a chance to see what he can do in that system."

Kansas and Georgia State also have offered the Dallas area product a scholarship. He prepped at Little Elm High.

"He led the metroplex in rushing his senior year (in high school)," Mayper said.

Kinner was a non-qualifier coming out of Little Elm and that led him to Navarro, which is in Corsicana, TX. He's turned things around academically at the JUCO.

"He's going to graduate in December with a 3.0 GPA," Mayper said.

Kinner can enroll at a four-year school in January and be available for spring practice. He would then have three years to play two.

The Hawkeyes graduate two running backs after their Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl appearance. Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock are exhausting their eligibility and Jordan Canzeri will be a fifth-year senior in 2015.

"(Kinner) is a humble kid. He doesn't speak a bunch and really is just focused on working hard and getting better," Mayper said. "I think that's something the Iowa coaches liked. They think he can handle the intensity with how they run things there at Iowa."

Mayper said that Kinner is about 5-foot-9 and a solid 185 pounds.

"He a smooth runner but also can run over people. I'm not sure of his 40 time but he's a fast running back in pads," the coach said. "Nobody in our conference could catch him and he had a lot of 60-plus yard runs. We also release him (on pass routes) and he can catch the ball."

Iowa stands at 16 known verbal commitments in the 2015 class. It's expected to finish up with about 20 or so players.

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