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Assume the Position 2012: Running Back

Assume the Position is our offseason guide to the Iowa Hawkeyes football depth chart. The math is difficult, so take it from us: As time moves on, we'll know more. That's why we rank the positions from most certain to least certain.

Previously on ATP2k12:

1. Quarterback
2. Cornerback
3. Tight End
5. Safety
Wide Receiver
7. Offensive Line
8. Defensive Tackle
Defensive End

Today: Running Back

You know, it's just that...

I mean...

God damn it.

The Last Man Standing

Damon Bullock (#32, Sophomore, 6'0", 195, Mansfield (TX) HS)

We've done more with less. Bullock was a two-star commitment from the suburbs of Dallas-Ft. Worth area who was injured as a junior but put together a good senior year. He had no other Division I offers besides Iowa (and who didn't even get that offer until a couple of days before Signing Day), mostly because of injury concerns and a lack of year-over-year production. We thought he would redshirt, and he didn't, but he didn't play halfback, either. Bullock moved to receiver midway through the season and played in the slot, picking up one reception (and ten carries before the move). The world has turned and left him here, though, and when Iowa takes the field Saturday in Chicago, Damon Bullock is going to be the starter.

So let's talk about 2009.

In 2009, we thought Jewel Hampton was going to be starting. And then Jewel blew out his knee. We thought Jeff Brinson would start in his place, and then Brinson got hurt again. There was Brandon Wegher, the coveted and much-hyped true freshman, and there was walk-on Paki O'Meara, and there was a completely unheralded two-star redshirt freshman who got a late offer and spent his first year in the program playing safety. Adam Robinson won that job, and four weeks later he did this:

And no matter what Wegher did, Robinson kept that job. He was one hell of a halfback for two seasons, before grades and concussions and weed did him in. I'm not saying Damon Bullock is Adam Robinson, or that Greg Garmon is Brandon Wegher, or that Bullock will still be the halfback and running fools over when Minnesota comes to town in late September. I'm just saying, don't count him out just yet.

The Next Great Hope

Greg Garmon (#4, Freshman, 6'1", 200, McDowell HS (Erie, PA)

A chronicle of Rivals four-star tailbacks who committed to Iowa under Kirk Ferentz:

  • Rodney Coe: Never even got here, because he didn't qualify. Currently playing defensive line at Iowa Western and occasionally losing his mind on Twitter.
  • Marcus Coker: "Voluntarily" left the program after last season because the University's adherence to privacy rules only applies to things they have to tell you and not the other way around.
  • Brandon Wegher: Left the program two days into 2010 camp, never to return. Tried to walk on at Oklahoma last season and didn't last much longer. Dude was a mess.
  • Kalvin Bailey: Really was a fullback, when you think back on it. Lasted one season. Got picked up for domestic in 2010, showing that you don't just lose AIRBHG once you've left campus.
  • Albert Young: Was awesome.

That's it, or at least it was before Garmon hit town. Five guys, one who made it through two full seasons without incident. Mean years at Iowa: 1.8. Median: 1. If the Saturday scrimmages were any indication, he has better vision and understanding of the process of running the football than anyone else on the roster. He's also about 185 lbs. and has reportedly struggled with blitz pickup and pass protect, which have always been mandated for anyone playing halfback for Ferentz. He'll play this year, because Damon Bullock can't handle 25 carries a game and there's nobody else, but it's far from certain that he takes over this year. Which is scary, because guys like him don't usually make year two.

The Guy Who Plays Paki in this Analogy, I Suppose

Michael Malloy (#26, Freshman, 6'0", 180, Bishop Heelan HS (Sioux City, IA))

Let's get one thing out of the way: Michael Malloy is a walk-on, but only technically. He had an offer from Iowa and had given a verbal commitment when he went all Dukes of Hazard on some cops in Nebraska. The scholarship was pulled, but only South Dakota gave him a scholarship, so Malloy took an invitation to walk on. He's playing for redemption, really. He's also playing for a scholarship, and those two things make Malloy an interesting prospect. There's no doubt he's going to play -- as of Friday, he was even with Garmon on the depth chart -- but he suffers from many of the same issues that will likely hamper Garmon. He's skinny, he's young, and he has some trouble blocking. He's also a warm body with two good ACLs and no pending legal issues. That's good enough to get on the field.

While You Wait for the Others

Andre Dawson (#31, Junior, 6'2", 207, Iowa Western C.C./Washington HS (Cedar Rapids, IA))

This is the year where every live body could be used, and Dawson is certainly that: He's got the size, and he's played a little (at UNI before going to IWCC) beyond high school. His offer list out of high school was impressive enough to get him three stars: Iowa, Illinois, Iowa State, Wisconsin (maybe), Purdue, Cincinnati, etc.

So why is he wearing the same number as a starting linebacker?

Jordan Canzeri (#33, Sophomore, 5'9", 180, Troy (NY) HS)

I don't want this to sound bad, because I think it shows courage and tenacity and immense amounts of hard work to even have a chance of returning to the field from a torn ACL in just six months. But let's say the improbable happens, and Jordan Canzeri is able to play by late September. It doesn't really solve anything. Canzeri remains an undersized halfback who ran 31 times for 114 yards last season. In his one start, he got 58 yards on 22 carries against a defense that gave up a pedestrian 135 yards rushing per game to everyone else. Canzeri could be another body to throw into the mix, but we have a couple of those guys already, and any prediction that he is more than that is pure delusion at this point.

Brad Rogers (#38, Junior (RS), 5'10", 230, Central Catholic HS (Toledo, OH))

Every year we play the "Can Brad Rogers play halfback?" game, and every year the answer is a resounding no, and he just goes back to being a really, really good fullback. Marcus Coker struggled through the first few games of last year, especially because he was tentative while looking for a hole on the stretch play. Iowa installed Rogers as a lead blocker and took the thinking out of it, and Coker suddenly and markedly improved. That's his role, that and blowing up blitzers in pass protect, and he's as good at it as anyone.

Mark Weisman (#45, Sophomore (RS), 6'0", 225, Stevenson HS (Buffalo Grove, IL))

You see that fawning praise of Rogers? Weisman just somehow beat him out for the starting fullback spot on the week one depth chart. He is a transfer from Air Force, having spent one season in Colorado Springs, and we didn't hear much about him until August, and for a moment he was everywhere. He'll provide some blocking, and he might get a carry or two, but it probably won't go much beyond that.