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Iowa Football Recruiting Positional Overview: Running Backs

The Iowa Hawkeyes will return 5 RBs for the 2018 season. We recap and explore the best bets to join them in the Iowa Football class of 2018.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Florida vs Iowa
Akrum Wadley will leave behind some big shoes to fill in 2018. Who will step in for the Hawkeyes?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With no sport truly in-season, the summer is recruiting season. So, as we get into the doldrums of summer, we’re stepping up our recruiting coverage a bit. We’ll be taking a quick look at the situation at each position group for the Hawkeyes. We’ll look at level of need, top targets and Iowa’s chances of landing a commitment in each group.

Depth Chart

Iowa Football RB Scholarship Distribution

POS SR JR SO RS FR Incoming FR Total 2018 COMMITS
POS SR JR SO RS FR Incoming FR Total 2018 COMMITS
RB Akrum Wadley Marcel Joly Toks Akrinibabe Toren Young Kyshaun Bryan; Ivory Kelly-Martin 6 Henry Geil

The Situation

The running back position is a bright spot heading into the 2017 season. The 1-2 punch of LeShun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley has been split up with Daniels finding a new home with the New England Patriots, but Wadley returns as potentially the most dynamic runner Iowa has had in my lifetime. Barring some unforeseen medical situation (oh God, what have I done), Wadley will be gone heading into the 2018 season and he’ll leave behind some pretty big shoes to fill.

Marcel Joly will be the lone returning upperclassman after this season. He’s a bit of an unkown given the luxury of depth the Hawkeyes have had the last two seasons. Joly will be joined by a couple of young guys that have shown flashes in Toks Akrinibade and Toren Young.

In addition to the guys we’ve seen, I really like the two freshmen who just arrived on campus. Ivory Kelly-Martin is a name we’ve followed for some time and had a hell of a high school career at Oswego East HS in Illinois (he finished with nearly 1400 rushing yards and 22 TDs last year). The name you may easily forget is Kyshaun Bryan. He was a late addition to the class, committing only a couple days before signing day, and he looks fantastic. Because he was such a late addition (he was committed to South Carolina for a good part of his senior year while Iowa was full with Eno Benjamin on board), we didn’t follow him much. But he is exactly what you think of when you think about prototypical Iowa running backs. He’s big, he’s strong and he has good football speed. The backfield is set up very nicely for years to come.

Because of that, there isn’t a huge need at RB in this class. However, we all know certain Iowa football deity who is always looming in the shadows, waiting to change all that. As such, I would expect the staff to take 1-2 backs in every cycle until the end of time.


Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Henry Geil RB 6'0" 204 Green Bay, WI

*Note: Current commit Tyrone Tracy has also played some RB in high school, but is expected to be a WR when he arrives in Iowa City.


Iowa Hawkeyes Class of 2018 RB Offers

Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Elijah Collins RB 6'2" 195 Detroit, MI
Jerome Ford RB 5'11" 200 Seffner, FL
Isaih Pacheco RB 5'11" 190 Vineland, NJ
Tavion Thomas RB 6'2" 227 Dayton, OH

Note that this list only includes players not currently committed to other schools. There a handful of guys Iowa has offered, but who have already announced a commitment somewhere else. Expect the number of offers to continue growing as the evaluation process moves forward. The summer is a busy time for offers as Iowa likes to get kids on campus for evaluations in camp. It’s also possible some of the kids who committed elsewhere will de-commit and be back on the market for the Hawkeyes.


A cursory glance at the table above illustrates my previous point: Iowa isn’t making a strong effort to add running backs in the class of 2018. They landed their primary target in Henry Geil of Wisconsin early in the period and are now focusing attention elsewhere.

Geil is a 6’1”, 203 lb back with a good size and speed combo. As a junior at Preble High School in Green Bay, Geil ran for 768 yards and 14 touchdowns. Here’s a quick look at his junior tape.

Including Geil, the Hawkyes will have 6 backs on the roster going into 2018, assuming there’s no additional attrition. That’s not exactly a safe bet so it’s entirely possible Iowa adds another in this class. Getting a good read on who, exactly, that might be is a little tougher. The various recruiting sites out there are inconsistent in who even holds an Iowa offer. Rivals doesn’t list Elijah Collins among those RBs offered by Iowa (though if you find your way to his personal page, he does show an offer and even “medium” interest) while 247 Sports doesn’t show either Isaih Pacheco or Jerome Ford.

If I’m placing my bets on who joins the class of 2018 at RB in addition to Henry Geil, I’m guessing it’s not someone listed above. Tavion Thomas has offers from the who’s who of college football programs, including the home-state Buckeyes. He’s not coming here.

Elijah Collins is the only one listed above who is shown as having an Iowa offer by all sites with publicly available data. He’s 6’1”, 195 lbs and looks good as a runner. He’d be a great addition to the class. Both Rivals and 247 list him as having “medium” interest in Iowa. But the University of Detroit Jesuit High School product has an offer from Michigan State and Wisconsin (among others) and I just feel like he ends up at one of those two, rather than Iowa. If I’m placing my bet, it’s on MSU.

The final two guys with an Iowa offer, according to Rivals but not 247, are Jerome Ford and Isaih Pacheco. Ford is a 5’11” 200lb back from Armwood High School in Seffner, Florida. Like the other two I’ve mentioned, he looks good on tape. But 247 is also reporting that Alabama came through with an offer this month after speculation they were sniffing around. If true, I don’t think Iowa stands a chance.

So that leaves Isaih Pacheco. Of the guys listed, I think this is probably the one with the best shot at ending up a Hawkeye, and I don’t think it happens. Pacheco is a 5’11” 190lb RB from Vineland, New Jersey. He’s listed as a 3-star everywhere and holds a number of P5 offers, but none from the bluebloods.

The leaders in the clubhouse appear to be Rutgers and Maryland, which is why I think Iowa has a shot here, if they were to prioritize adding another RB. I just don’t think that’s a focus right now.

My guess is the staff fills other needs and circles back to RB as a position of opportunity in January. Perhaps they could still get a guy like Pacheco at that time, but my guess is it’s not someone listed here.

Reminder that we are breaking down one position each each. Last week we took a look at the QB situation. Next week we will tackle the WRs. As we saw Monday, these situations are all fluid, so be sure to check out the home page for all updates regarding commitments.