Iowa Football

Sadly, two No. 1 running backs and a top safety no longer in Hawkeyes' path

Brilliant Northwestern soph RB Jeremy Larkin has career cut short

Minnesota running back Rodney Smith (1) tries to elude Iowa defensive back Jake Gervase during the Hawkeyes’ game against the Gophers last Oct. 28 at Kinnick Stadium. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Minnesota running back Rodney Smith (1) tries to elude Iowa defensive back Jake Gervase during the Hawkeyes’ game against the Gophers last Oct. 28 at Kinnick Stadium. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

This is an unseemly thing to write, true though it may be. Iowa will not have to face three of the best Big Ten football players it was slated to go up against.

It was announced Monday that Northwestern sophomore running back Jeremy Larkin is retiring from football after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

“Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact that I won’t be on that field again,” Larkin said.

He had 346 rushing yards and 127 receiving yards through three games. That’s 157.7 total yards per game, which obviously is sensational. He had 15 catches over his last two games.

Larkin has accounted for 98.5 percent of the Wildcats’ rushing yards.

This news came after Minnesota losing senior running back Rodney Smith for the season after Smith suffered a torn ACL in the Gophers’ second game. Then safety Antoine Winfield Jr., injured a foot in Minnesota’s 42-13 loss at Maryland last Saturday, and his season is over.

Minnesota will appeal for waivers to get both players an extra season of eligibility. They were the Gophers’ best offensive and defensive players.

Smith and Winfield have had brilliant careers. Smith rushed for 977 yards last season and 1,158 the year before. He had a 100-yard kickoff return last year against Nebraska. He had 24 carries for 153 yards in Minnesota’s season-opening win against New Mexico State a few weeks ago. He has 2,959 career rushing yards.

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Winfield had a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in the New Mexico State game. He won Big Ten defensive and special teams Player of the Week honors in the first two weeks.

Football. Brutal.

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