Countdown to Kickoff: Damian Sims

Damian Sims received more than just a taste in 2006. He started for the first time, a 155 yard effort in a win against Purdue. He continued to electrify the Iowa fan base with his long runs and ever present home run threat. He will once again help carry the load in 2007 with his running mate Albert Young. We continue our countdown to kickoff with our profile of Damian Sims...



Damian Sims has done all that has been asked of him to this point in his career with the exception of actually staying on the defensive side of the ball.  He was asked to give cornerback a look a couple years back, and instantly made an appearance on the two-deep at a position that was thin.


Iowa's coaching staff believed that he could make an impact there, and if he had professional football aspirations, that might be his best ticket.


But Sims wanted to carry the ball, and switched back to offensive after just two games, and ran in for a 39 yard touchdown against Northern Iowa in game three in 2005.  A few games later, Sims broke through for a 66-yard touchdown run against Illinois.  


He has shown to have one of the best ‘high gears' on the team, and has been Iowa's biggest home run threat as a ball carrier since Tavian Banks played for the Hawkeyes.  His 20 carries for 155 yards against Purdue last year in his first career start showed that he can carry the mail if called upon.  The only down side to last year for Sims were ball security issues.  He wasn't the only player to make a mistake in Iowa's loss at Indiana last year, but his fumble was a part of the reason Iowa lost.  Again, that is not to single out Sims, as penalties, drops and other issues hurt Iowa on that day.  But it's one reason why the staff is happy to have a two-headed attack, though Kirk Ferentz said on numerous occasions that he is comfortable with Sims in the backfield.


As he should be, as he and Albert Young compliment one another quite well.  It's not quite like Tampa Bay's Thunder and Lighting with Mike Allstot and Warrick Dunn, but it's a nice change of pace for Iowa.




Iowa takes it easy on their running backs in spring drills, since Jermelle Lewis' knee injury many moons ago.  They do take some hits, but not a lot.  And being that Sims is a senior, he has been around the block and knows what is expected of him.


The biggest areas for improvement for Sims need to occur in his pass catching abilities in addition to his kick return skills.  If he can take some steps forward in those departments, the Hawkeyes will be a more dangerous football team in 2007.  Also, blocking in the backfield is also an area that Sims needs to perfect so teams can't lock in on nickel or dime package substitutions when he is in the game…trust me, it's not as obvious as it was when Edgar Cervantes came in to spell Fred Russell in 2003.  But improved blocking would be a plus.




This year will belong to Sims and Young in the backfield.  Some fans are still under the impression that Iowa had a disappointing year running the ball in 2006.  But when you combine the numbers that Sims and Young put up while splitting time, you get 310 carries for 1,443 yards and 13 touchdowns.  That's also an average of 4.65 yards per carry.  Now, that was less than their combined 2005 output of 279 carries, 1,630 yards and 12 TD's (5.8ypc), but its still not a bad number.  And Young suffered through another injury filled season last year.


I look for this year's tandem of Sims and Young to put up numbers closer to their 2005 totals, if not more.  Health is a key factor here, as Shonn Greene is no longer in the mix, and the next men in will be RS Frosh Dana Brown and true frosh Jevon Pugh.


The more I look at the prospective 2007 offense, the more excited I get; but as always, it's going to depend on the horses in the trenches.  As I continue to say, if this year's offensive line play is above average, the offense could really have a breakout season.



Became the third true freshman to play in 2004 when he saw first action in win over Ohio State in sixth game of the season . . . moved to defensive back during 2005 fall pre-season before returning to offense early in the regular season.

2006 - - Listed as second team running back following spring practice . . . saw action in 41-7 win over Montana as offense gained 416 yards total offense . . . rushed seven times for 39 yards vs. Montana, with a long of 21 yards . . . had two receptions for 22 yards vs. Montana, with a long of 17 yards . . . saw action in double overtime win at Syracuse . . . rushed 10 times for 51 yards and had one reception for 11 yards vs. Syracuse, along with one KO return for 10 yards . . . rushed five times for 40 yards and had his pass reception in Iowa's second period touchdown drive . . . saw action in win over Iowa State, rushing four times for 19 yards and adding one reception for seven yards . . . saw action in win at Illinois . . . rushed 15 times for 55 yards . . . scored his first touchdown of the season on a one-yard run in the second period to give Iowa a 7-0 advantage . . . saw action in loss to top-ranked Ohio State . . . rushed five times for 38 yards and had one kickoff return for 14 yards . . . 21-yard run matches his longest run from scrimmage on the year . . . started at running back in win over Purdue as offense reached season high marks in points (47) and rushing yards (286) . . . rushed 20 times for 155 yards and two touchdowns vs. Purdue in first career start . . . scored on runs of one and eight yards and had a long-run of 44 yards . . . also had one reception for 13 yards . . . started at running back in loss at Indiana as offense gained 467 yards total offense . . . rushed 22 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns . . . both scores were on one-yard runs and he had a long of 41 yards . . . also had one pass reception for nine yards and gained 32 yards on two kickoff returns . . . started at running back in loss at Michigan . . . rushed seven times for 22 yards and had one reception for one yard vs. Michigan . . . saw action in win over Northern Illinois as offense gained 405 yards total offense . . . rushed seven times for 29 yards vs. Northern Illinois and had one kickoff return for 22 yards . . . saw action in loss to Northwestern . . . rushed 10 times for 46 yards vs. Northwestern and had two kickoff returns for 44 yards . . . saw action in loss to Wisconsin . . . rushed seven times for 53 yards . . . had one pass reception for 35 yards vs. Wisconsin and one kickoff return for 36 yards . . . saw action in loss at Minnesota as offense gained season-best 546 yards total offense . . . rushed for 37 yards on six carries vs. Minnesota and had one pass reception for 33 yards . . . also had 26 yards on two kickoff returns . . . saw action vs. Texas in Alamo Bowl . . . 12 rushing attempts for 26 yards and one pass reception for two yards vs. Texas.

2005 - - Saw action at cornerback in opening win over Ball State, recording three solo tackles . . . saw action at Iowa State, with two KO returns for 24 yards . . . saw action in win over Northern Iowa after moving back to running back . . . two rushing attempts for 40 yards vs. UNI, including a 39-yard touchdown run for his first career score . . . also had one KO return for 16 yards . . . saw action at Ohio State, with one KO return for 20 yards . . . saw action in win over Illinois as offense rushed for 301 yards and gained 476 yards total offense . . . rushed six times for 81 yards vs. Illinois and gained seven yards on one pass reception . . . 66-yard run for a touchdown provided final points in win over Illinois . . . saw action in win at Purdue, with three rushing attempts for five yards . . . saw action in win over Indiana, rushing for a 30-yard touchdown on his only rushing attempt of the game . . . also had one kickoff return for 10 yards . . . saw action vs. Michigan, but had no statistics . . . did not see action at Northwestern . . . saw action in win at Wisconsin, rushing six times for 30 yards, helping Iowa control the ball in the fourth quarter . . . saw action in win over Minnesota as offense gained 613 yards total offense . . . rushed eight times for career-best 104 yards vs. Gophers for first 100-yard game of his career . . . had a 71-yard scoring run in the second period for Iowa's longest run from scrimmage on the season, while also collecting one reception for 11 yards and one KO return for 28 yards . . . saw action in Outback Bowl vs. Florida, rushing four times for six yards and gaining 12 yards on one pass reception . . . totaled 107 yards on five KO returns, including a team season-best 47 yard return.

2004 - - Did not see action in first five games . . . saw action in seven games . . . season totals included 17 rushing attempts for 45 yards and two pass receptions for one yards . . . also averaged 20.3 yards on six KO returns . . . first career action came in win over Ohio State, when he rushed nine times for 31 yards . . . saw action in win at Penn State, with one rushing attempt for four yards . . . saw action in win at Illinois . . . rushed three times for five yards and had one reception for one yard . . . saw action in win over Purdue . . . had one pass reception for no gain . . . completed first pass attempt of his career (to QB Drew Tate) for eight yards . . . saw action in win at Minnesota . . . rushed four times for five yards . . . had four kickoff returns for 82 yards . . . saw action in win over Wisconsin to clinch share of Big Ten title . . . returned one kickoff for a career-best 37 yards, leading to Iowa touchdown late in the second quarter for a 14-7 halftime advantage . . . saw action in Capital One Bowl win over LSU, with one KO return for three yards.

High school honors - - First team all-conference, all-area and all-state as a senior . . . also named a Treasure Coast all-Star . . . named first team all-conference and second team all-state as a junior . . . first team all-conference and third team all-state as a sophomore . . . four-year letterman in football and one year letterman in baseball . . . Career - - ended prep career with 560 rushing attempts for 4,940 yards and 64 touchdowns . . . rushed 154 times for 1,364 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior . . . also had nine punt returns for 153 yards and a touchdown . . . had 198 carries for 1,638 yards and 24 touchdowns in seven games as a junior . . . recorded 1,938 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns in 10 games as a sophomore.

Personal - - Born 3/26/86 . . . open major . . . parents are Joy Clayton and Lawrence Gardenhire . . . cousin of former Iowa wide receiver C.J. Jones . . . high school coach was Terry Gough.

Sims' Collegiate Stats

Rushing Att. Yds. Avg. TD Lng
Freshman 17 45 2.6 0 21
Sophomore 30 296 9.9 4 71
Junior 132 664 5.0 6 44
Career 179 1,005 5.6 10 71
Receiving No. Yds. Avg. TD Lng
Freshman 2 1 0.5 0 1
Sophomore 3 30 10.0 0 12
Junior 10 133 14.6 0 35
Career 15 164 10.9 0 35
Kickoff Returns No. Yds. Avg. TD Lng
Freshman 6 122 20.3 0 37
Sophomore 12 241 20.1 0 47
Junior 10 184 18.4 0 36
Career 28 547 18.4 0 47

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories