116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Kaleb Johnson understandably caught plenty of attention for his accolades as a true freshman running back in 2022.
Johnson became the first Iowa running back to record 200 rushing yards in a game since Akrum Wadley did so in 2015.
He was an all-Big Ten honorable mention in a conference that was deep at running back in 2022. (Three of the 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award were from the Big Ten.)
Now Iowa’s other true freshman running back in 2022, Jaziun Patterson, is increasingly drawing attention, too, as another possible weapon on Iowa’s offense.
“Jaziun Patterson is a guy that jumped out to me through bowl prep,” Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said in Nashville before the Music City Bowl.
Patterson’s “approach” and “the way he goes to work” particularly stood out to Ferentz.
“The way he approaches every day — I heard the head coach (Kirk Ferentz) talk about Jack Campbell, seeing things as an opportunity,” Brian Ferentz said. “Jaz is a guy that I would describe the same way. Maybe, hopefully, he can have the type of career that Jack had.”
Patterson and Johnson left a strong impression on strength coach Raimond Braithwaite before the season even began.
“I have Rai telling me those guys are passing by his office, 4:45, upbeat, ready to go for a 6:00 workout, not jumping in there a minute before we get going,” Kirk Ferentz said in November, referring to summer workouts. “Sounds simple, but it’s really unusual for a first-year player.”
The on-field opportunities in the regular season were not there for Patterson in Year 1 as essentially the fourth or fifth option in Iowa’s rushing game.
Johnson had 142 carries, Leshon Williams had 114 carries and Gavin Williams had 43 carries as the three running backs to earn spots on the depth chart.
Wide receiver Arland Bruce IV had 12 carries. Patterson, meanwhile, had 10.
Six of Patterson’s carries were in the fourth quarter of Iowa’s seven-hour matinee against Nevada, and the other four were in Iowa’s 24-3 blowout of Purdue.
The transfer portal departures of Gavin Williams and Bruce lessened the competition for carries ahead of the Music City Bowl, though.
Patterson had 23 yards on four carries in the fourth quarter against Kentucky, and 17 of those 23 yards came after initial contact with a defender, according to Pro Football Focus.
Patterson’s performance particularly stood out on a day when rushing success was at a premium for Iowa. His 23 yards were a team-high.
Kaleb Johnson averaged only 1.9 yards per carry on his nine attempts, and Leshon Williams had three yards on three carries.
“Jaz Patterson took it there at the end and had a couple of good runs,” Kirk Ferentz said after the Music City Bowl victory. “He is a young guy who just quietly has been grabbing opportunities and doing a great job.”