SPORTS

A closer look: Iowa running backs

Hawkeyes bring back experience, talent

Iowa Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley (25) celebrates after a touchdown with running back LeShun Daniels Jr. (29) in the second quarter of their NCAA football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley (25) celebrates after a touchdown with running back LeShun Daniels Jr. (29) in the second quarter of their NCAA football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

THE DEPTH CHART

RB — 1. LeShun Daniels, sr., 6-0, 225; 2. Akrum Wadley, jr., 5-11, 191; 3. Derrick Mitchell, jr., 6-1, 220; 4. Toks Akinribade, fr., 6-0, 205; 5. Toren Young, fr., 5-11, 220; 6. Marcel Joly, so., 5-11, 195; 7. Sam Cook, fr., 5-9, 215

FB — 2. Drake Kulick, jr., 6-1, 236; 2. Brady Ross, fr., 6-1, 240; 3. Austin Kelly, so., 5-11, 245; 4. Steve Manders, jr., 6-1, 235; 5. Lane Akre, fr., 6-0, 235 

NEXT MAN IN: T-N-T

True freshmen Toks Akinribade and Toren Young showcased their abilities in Iowa’s lone open practice. Each scored a touchdown and both bring a different style to the team.

Akinribade combines size, speed and fluidity as a runner. He totaled more than 4,700 rushing yards and 59 touchdowns at Class 6A Brownsburg (Ind.) High School. Young is the steak to Akinribade’s sizzle. He’s physical and gets upfield quickly. Young ran for 2,779 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior at Monona Grove (Wis.) High School.

“So far, they’re going to be really good football players, I know that,” Iowa running backs coach Chris White said. “They’re both big, they’re both strong and they can run. Toks has a unique ability of being a big back who can play small. He has Akrum (Wadley) type of moves. Not Akrum—Akrum, but he’s got that type of change-of-direction ability and he has some explosive power to him. So he’s going to be fun to work with and develop.”

ETC.

The Hawkeyes had three running backs rush for at least 195 yards in a game last year, something not done in major college football since 1997. Leading rusher Jordan Canzeri finished with 984 yards, followed by LeShun Daniels (646) and Akrum Wadley (496). Collectively, they gained 2,126 yards and 27 touchdowns at nearly 5.2 yards per rush. They combined for nine 100-yard gains and

Canzeri graduated, but the Hawkeyes bring back Daniels and Wadley, who figure to provide a thunder/lightning approach to running back. Third-down specialist Derrick Mitchell, a converted wide receiver in his second year at running back, ran for 162 yards and caught 25 balls for 162 yards last season.

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More: 'The Program' reveals way to help Wadley shed fumbling pattern

“It could be something to watch,” Wadley said. “We all got different things that we provided. We’ve got LeShun, who’s going to be there. He can get them three, four yards. He can make explosive plays. He’s got moves, he can run you over. Derrick Mitchell (has) got the hands; he just came from wide receiver. He’s got the hands, he can catch balls with one hand. He does a lot of amazing things. He’s explosive.

“We can be something special.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3169; scott.dochterman@thegazette.com

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