IOWA CITY, Ia. - Panic set into some of the Iowa fan base when Brandon Wegher's personal issues kept him from attending camp. The Hawkeye faithful worried about the three-headed running game that looked so promising through the off-season.
No disrespect to Wegher, but Iowa is fine. Even if he doesn't get his deserved respect, Adam Robinson is as good as any running back on the team, and for my money, the most well-rounded and accomplished. Even if suspended Jewel Hampton weren't returning next week, the Hawkeyes are in good shape with their No. 1.
Robinson bashed through Eastern Illinois here on Saturday in the season-opener for both teams. The Hawkeyes broke in three new starters on its offensive line and nobody really noticed. He carried 24 times for 109 yards and three scores and also caught three balls for 43 more.
Iowa is the program of "next man in." Robinson, after stepping in for the injured Hampton last season, is one of the best "next mans in" during Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz's 12 years at the helm.
"It's really how we recruited him," Ferentz said of the Des Moines Lincoln product. "He was not the primary target of our trip down there."
Exactly. Robinson didn't come to Iowa with stars slapped on his back by Scout.com or other recruiting services. He flew under the recruiting radar and was originally brought into Iowa as a gray shirt, meaning he would pay his way for his first semester of college before joining the Hawkeyes as a scholarship player.
We sometimes put so much stock in recruiting services that we forget to watch what's happening on the field. Wegher is a heavily recruited guy. Hampton also had more schools on him than did Robinson. Who cares?
Robinson's style also might contribute to the lack of notoriety he receives from some on-lookers. He's not the classic breakaway back. He's a grinder.
"Adam's just one of those guys that's quite, low-key, understated," Ferentz said. "He's been that way since he's gotten here. It just seems like every time he has an opportunity to do something, he does it well. He goes full speed."
Robinson stepped in for Hampton last season and rushed for a school freshman record 834 yards despite missing two games and portions of others with injury and sharing the load with Wegher. Saturday represented the sophomore's third 100-yard game on the ground as a Hawkeye.
Jason White stepped in behind Robinson and Paki O'Meara on Saturday with Hampton out. White grew up in Iowa and paints a nice picture of his teammate.
"Adam is an Iowa-bred boy," White said. "He's a corn-fed, Iowa breed to the max. He's a workhorse. He comes to work every single day. You know what you're going to get out of Adam. He's not into the flash, but he's got some elusiveness. He can make some guys miss. And he has the power. He was carrying some piles today."
The excitement in Hawkeye Land for the return of Hampton next week will be felt. That's great. He's a talented back who really showed well as Shonn Greene's backup in 2008. Having said that, Robinson's not going anywhere.
I'd be shocked if Robinson didn't start next week and receive the bulk of the carries. Part of it is that he's earned it and part is because Hampton hasn't played in a game in almost two years.
Robinson's teammates want him in there, that's for sure.
"He might be overlooked by the media or fans, but within our locker room we all understand the type of guy and the type of player Adam is," Center James Ferentz said. "The way he runs, he just commands the field. He's just a guy you really want to block for to make sure he doesn't have to break tackles. The fact that he's able to shows how hard he is to bring down. We're really lucky to have him back there."
Robinson has shown on the field that he's Iowa's most complete back. Hampton hasn't had that opportunity yet.
That should mean something to everybody. Robinson plays like Jamie Murphy did on special teams. He disregards his body for the betterment of the team.
I guess it's easier to believe in a lunch-pail guy who runs down the field as a gunner than a guy in the glamour position that is running back. It shouldn't be. A good football player is a good football player no matter where he is on the field.
Robinson represents what has helped make this program under Ferentz so successful. He's an under-recruited guy that succeeds against blue chippers at the BCS level.