Filling the running back gap

Cedar Falls star Barkley Hill sees a fit in style and opportunity with the Hawkeyes

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CEDAR FALLS -- In the end, Barkley Hill saw a fit.

He committed to Iowa State last April. Iowa offered a month later. He stayed with ISU up until last week. After he visited Iowa City, and listened to smooth and persuasive defensive back Micah Hyde, Hill made the switch.

He took some heat, but the 6-f00t, 210-pounder saw a style that fit him and an opportunity in Iowa City.

"Iowa fits my running style," said Hill, who is named after NBA legend Charles Barkley. "They have a need for people at my position and that's a fit. It was tough, but it was the best thing for me."

Iowa coaches have told Hill, who rushed for 6,127 yards and 89 touchdowns in his career at Cedar Falls High School, that playing time is there for him in 2012 if he goes out and earns it.

Even after committing to the Cyclones, Iowa was always in the back of his mind.

"Back then, it wasn't sinking in as much as it is now," Hill said. "You weren't really thinking that much about recruiting back then. It's kind of about playing football."

Iowa State's running game is based more out of the zone read, where the quarterback reads the defensive end (usually) and decides to hand off to the running back or keep the ball. Iowa runs a zone blocking scheme, where the running back takes a hand-off, makes a read and goes.

Hill said he felt that suited him better.

"I like running between the tackles more than anything," Hill said.

And, no, Hill isn't scared off by the recent history of Iowa running backs not making it to year two or three in the program.

"Those were unfortunate situations where people didn't make the best decisions," said Hill, who wants to be 215 or 220 pounds before fall camp. "Just stay out of trouble and move on."

That should be written on the helmets of Iowa running backs. The position was an obvious need for the 2012 recruiting class.

Iowa got Hill and Erie, Pa., product Greg Garmon. They offer contrasting styles, according to Josh Helmholdt, Midwest recruiting analyst.

"I think Hill is that prototypical back Iowa always has there," Helmholdt said. "He's going to be able pound it out between the tackles and he brings nice speed to the edge."

Garmon is listed at 6-2, 195. He received a ton of offers, but not all were for the running back position, which was a big deal for him. His final two choices were Iowa and Miami (Fla.), which offered him as a defensive back.

"I'll definitely be a running back there," Garmon said.

Garmon rushed for 2,859 yards and 27 touchdowns in three varsity seasons at Erie McDowell High School.

"Garmon is a little bit of a change of pace," Helmholdt said. "He's listed as a bigger kid, but I thought he was more of a sprint-type running back, more of a guy who lines up next to the quarterback in the shotgun. You can flex him out in the slot, too. He almost looks like a wide receiver, because he's a little bit tall and lanky."

With the departures of Marcus Coker and Mika'il McCall, sophomore Jordan Canzeri likely will be the No. 1 back going into spring practice. As a 172-pound true freshman, Canzeri rushed for a team-high 58 yards and caught six passes, including a TD, in a 31-14 loss to Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl.

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