Hampton Has Designs on No. 1 RB Spot

With Albert Young and Damien Sims out of eligibility and Jevon Pugh walking away, Iowa's starting running back position is as wide open as it's been in recent memory. Coach Kirk Ferentz said he expects a pair of true freshmen to contribute. One of those players is Indianapolis' Jewel Hampton. The 5-9, 205-pounder talked about the position in which he finds himself in this premium update.

Jewel Hampton has gone from a guy with two scholarship offers to one that might be starting in Iowa's offensive backfield this fall.

The running back from Indianapolis said on the phone Monday that he will be arriving in Iowa City on June 1 with a clear vision in his head.

"I chose to come early because I wanted to compete for the starting position," the 5-foot-11, 205-pound back said. "I wanted to get in there and learn the offense. I wanted to get to know the team and get a spot."

Hampton rushed 2,095 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior for Warren Central in Indy. He earned first-team all-state as a senior and his team won state championships from 2004-06.

Yet, Ball State was the only other school to offer a scholarship.

All of that will matter little when he straps on the pads for the Hawkeyes. He'll be expected to be a well-rounded running back, able to block, pick up blitzes and catch the ball.

"I think I can do everything that's required of a running back," Hampton said. "I think that. I'm equipped with enough tools to do so."

An already open running back situation at Iowa became more so when projected starter Jevon Pugh left school after spring break. The only scholarship player at the position right now is junior college transfer Nate Guillory, who sat No. 2 on the spring depth chart behind walk-on Paki O'Meara.

Hampton's excitement about playing as a freshman increased when he heard Pugh would be departing.

"I was just so much happier knowing the chance became bigger," He said laughing. "Plus, he had the number that I wanted."

Iowa also will welcome freshman running back Jeff Brinson into camp this summer. Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz is saying that he and Hampton both will get a crack at starting and both likely will contribute this season.

"I don't know him, personally, but I saw him when I came on my official (visit)," Hampton said of Brinson. "He seems like a nice guy. We didn't talk much. We shared a couple of words now and then."

Hampton said that he runs an electronically timed 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.

"People say that I'm am an aggressive runner," he said. "I run mad. I don't let the people come to me. I come to the people. I can be allusive at times, but I'm not allusive when I don't have to be."

Hampton returned kicks until his senior season when he was the main running back. He said he was willing to come in and contribute on special teams.

Warren Central didn't ask Hampton to catch the ball much, but it is a skill in which he feels comfortable. He also feels physically able to come in and play right away.

"If I'm not, I'm working at it right now to come up to expectations," Hampton said, who is planning on doing everything in his power to be the starting running back when Iowa takes on Maine in the season opener.

"I think it's a great opportunity for an incoming freshman. That's says a lot being able to do that at a big time school. I'm just looking to seize the opportunity. That's my main goal. I'm looking to come in and play. I want to. It would be outstanding if I could."

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