It's been a while since we had to file a Gone Baby Gone report for the Iowa football team (which is nice), but it's not a huge surprise that Iowa would see a few departures around spring practice; we typically see that sort of thing every year around this time. Regardless, we found out today that sophomore defensive backs Kevin Buford and Torrey Campbell are leaving the Iowa football team.
Buford saw action last year as a true freshman in nine games, mainly in special teams situations although he also saw the field in Iowa's nickel defense at times. He recorded five total tackles. Sean Draper, a fellow freshman defensive back last year, was slightly preferred to Buford last season -- he saw action in ten games, amassing six tackles and one pass break-up. Honestly, we probably should have had a clue that something might be happening when Buford failed to make the two-deeps at cornerback, despite the fact that he did see some action last year and the fact that the departures of seniors Micah Hyde and Greg Castillo had opened up some slots on the two-deeps. Instead, the three remaining cornerback slots (outside of returning starter B.J. Lowery) were filled by redshirt freshmen Jordan Lomax (returning from a shoulder injury that kept him out all of last year) and Maurice Fleming (who redshirted last year while recovering from an ACL injury in high school). Buford seemed to be the fifth-choice defense back, at best, which is an awkward spot to be in.
Unlike Buford, who will be transferring from Iowa to another institution (TBD), Torrey Campbell isn't leaving Iowa -- just the football team. He's turning in his pads and helmet for a singlet and a total commitment to track and field. I can't say this decision is a huge surprise -- he came to Iowa with a reputation as a skilled athlete that would need to be molded into a football player. To date, that progress had been slow. Campbell redshirted in 2011 and played in only one game in 2012, when he found himself passed on the depth chart by both Buford and Campbell. On the other hand, he's showed a lot of promise in track and field:
2012 -- Indoor - ran collegiate-best 60-meter hurdles (8.09) at ISU Qualifier prelims... that time ranks seventh all-time at Iowa... placed fourth in 60-meter hurdles at ISU Qualifier (8.11), sixth at Razorback Invite (8.11) and Adidas Classic (8.28) and 12th at Big Ten Championships (8.18)... placed third in 60-meter hurdles (8.39) and ninth in 200 meters (22.83) at Iowa Invite... Outdoor - did not compete... letterwinner.
It's not hard to see why Campbell might see more of a future for himself in track and field than football. Best of luck to him on that front; hopefully he can help lead Iowa's track and field team to some glory over the next few years. Of course, Campbell's departure from the football team is also significant because he continues former coach Rick Kaczenski's .000 batting average on Florida prospects. Oof.
Outside of overall depth -- Iowa has just one cornerback with a significant amount of experience (although that would remain true even if Campbell and Buford had stayed) and has only walk-ons (say "hi," Gavin Smith and Dayo Ogundepo) and incoming freshmen (Desmond King and Malik Rucker seems like the most likely freshmen to push for playing time at corner) after the four defensive backs listed on the two-deeps -- Iowa might feel these departures most acutely in special teams. Buford saw a fair amount of action on special teams last year and likely would have done so again this year. Campbell's speed made him an intriguing option at kick returner or punt returner, although it's unclear if he would have been the preferred option at either position. All told, there isn't much to suggest that the departure of Buford and Campbell will be significant blows to the Iowa football team -- but it will require some new faces to emerge in the secondary and it could make things a bit more precarious if defensive back gets hit hard by the injury bug this fall. Still, best of luck to Campbell and Buford in their new ventures.