Last summer, even the biggest Iowa fans barely knew who Mark Weisman was.
The walk-on fullback is now one of the most important parts of Iowa's offense, and his health will be crucial for the Hawkeyes in 2013. Weisman unexpectedly emerged as one of the top running backs in the Big Ten a year ago before nagging injuries limited his effectiveness.
Iowa was at its best when Weisman was on the field, and the Hawkeyes are counting on him being available for all of the 2013 season.
They're also hoping that all the extra bodies at running back with Weisman will help. They include Damon Bullock, Jordan Canzeri, who's back after missing 2012 with an ACL tear, and youngsters Barkley Hill and Michael Malloy.
''As far as I know his health is great. He was fine in the spring,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday of Weisman. ''One thing we can do to help him and Bullock and help everybody is just to have a little bit more depth where those guys don't have to shoulder the whole load.''