There's no debate on this as Akrum Wadley has emerged as one of the best players in the country. He's a candidate for Big Ten's Most Outstanding Player in my opinion. I'm not going as far as to say a Heisman contender just yet like others have. I'm withholding that national acclaim for the moment, but giving him the regional accolades and conference accolades. Remember that he is in the same league as Saquon Barkley of Penn State and L.J. Scott of Michigan State.
The real question is who's second in the pecking order.
At Iowa, you're going to use more than one back. With that one back being Akrum Wadley, he's probably going to be used quite a bit. Because of how much Iowa depends on the running game and their running backs, he'll probably surpass 100 carries on the season. So the second back is just as important as who's the first back when it comes to the Hawkeye offense.
The Spring showed us that the answer at this point is redshirt freshman Toren Young and he gave us no reason to believe that he would be relinquishing that duty. Wadley was held back for nearly the entirety of the spring portion of the football calendar so it was Toren Young time and he passed the eye test with flying colors. He looked great at the open practice in West Des Moines. He looked pretty good in other limited availabilities of a few other practices. He looked great in the spring game. I'm sure Toks Akinribade will still get a few touches and get some playing time throughout the 2017 football season but I think the unquestioned second back right now is Young.
Akrum Wadley, Toren Young and Toks Akinribade are sure to account for at least 90 percent of the production at running back this upcoming season but everyone will want to know what it looks like behind him so they know what to expect once Wadley departs for the NFL. There's three others on the roster for this season in Marcel Joly, Kyshaun Bryan and Ivory Kelly-Martin.
The coaching staff has never seemed to be in love with Joly as he's been passed by plenty of backs in his tenure, including Young and Akinribade. I imagine that one of Kelly-Martin and Bryan will redshirt so that they can separate them in terms of eligibility. It would also give them four backs to play. There's no clear indication of which one would be most likely to redshirt, although my pick would be Kyshaun Bryan. He's been hampered by injuries in the past and I think they'd like a full year with him in the strength and conditioning program so that they can determine and figure out if there are any lingering issues.
This is a position that probably is among the best on the offensive side of the ball. They're depleted at wideout, and there's very little experience at quarterback. The offensive line is in great shape as well. The tight ends are plentiful but do not possess the same amount of proven experience as they have at running back and offensive line.
One thing is for sure, the running backs will get a lot of work. There's only three scholarship receivers that have ever played a down at Iowa returning in the Fall, and only one has caught a pass. There's also going to be a new starting quarterback. It's also an offensive line that has been known better for run-blocking than pass protecting.
Because of that, passing should pose quite the challenge once again for this upcoming season. That will put more pressure on Akrum Wadley and the rest of the backfield.