Iowa Football has experienced their fair share of backfield struggles throughout my years on campus. It started after the 2009 season when Brandon Wegher was kicked off the team for personal issues. During the 2010 season running backs Jewel Hampton and Adam Robinson were kicked off the team amidst a drug scandal – Robinson was arrested for possession of marijuana. In 2011 Marcus Coker was suspended for the Insight Bowl and opted to leave the program after allegedly being involved in a sexual assault case. Talented freshmen backs such as Mikail McCall and Greg Garmon have come and gone. Jordan Canzeri was penciled in as the starter on the 2012 spring depth chart but he tore his ACL on the first day of Spring Practice. A couple months later talented freshman Barkley Hill tore his ACL and longtime backup running back DeAndre Johnson was kicked off the team.
Ten Iowa running backs have either torn their ACL or have been kicked off the team since Shonn Greene went pro after the 2008 season. But there’s reason for optimism moving forward. Canzeri, Damon Bullock, and Mark Weisman all return next season and the talented backs are looking to stabilize the Hawkeye backfield.
Although, the rumor mill has been swirling in Iowa City and the word around town is Bullock might be moved to the slot for a variety of reasons. Bullock has prior experience playing receiver for the Hawkeyes. He went back and forth from wideout to tailback during his freshman season. He’ll add a spark to a passing attack that’s still searching for a big play weapon. Secondly, this move would put more playmakers on the field for a stagnant Hawkeye offense, but more importantly, Bullock switched positions due to health concerns.
The junior suffered from concussion like symptoms during his sophomore season forcing walk-on Mark Weisman into the mix. Bullock’s concussion history is a bit concerning, so the Hawkeye coaching staff would like to minimize the amount of hits he takes. The Mansfield, TX native’s move to the slot will create a frightening thunder and lightning combo for first year running backs coach Chris White.
Weisman will be the thunder to Canzeri’s lightning. The former walk-on is a bruising back that’ll run over anyone in his path. Weisman spent time at fullback and tailback this past season so it’s not a stretch to think that he and Canzeri could be lined up in the backfield at the same time. The Buffalo Grove, IL native was recently named to the 2013 College Football Performance Awards Watch List. He figures to receive the majority of the carries since Weisman is the workhorse type of back that head coach Kirk Ferentz covets.
Canzeri will add some explosiveness to a dull Iowa offense. The redshirt sophomore has elite speed, evident by his 4.49 40 yard dash time. His elusiveness and change of direction ability makes him nearly impossible to bring down in the open field. Canzeri’s knee shouldn’t be an issue anymore considering he could have returned last season a mere six months after suffering the injury.
Weisman and Canzeri could combine to form best backfield 1-2 punch in the Big Ten, which has to be great news for an Iowa offense that’s still looking for a starting QB next season.