With the departure of seniors Akrum Wadley and James Butler, the Iowa Hawkeyes were facing a lack of depth in the running back room for the 2018 season. While the top of the depth chart features some talent in RS sophomore Toren Young and true sophomore Ivory Kelly-Martin, the rest of the depth chart leaves a lot to be desired. Beyond RS freshman Kyshaun Bryan, there are no other true RBs as of today. Fellow sophomore Toks Akinribade is facing a medical condition which may not allow him to return to football and RS freshman Cam Harrell spent last season on the defensive side of the ball.
Iowa does have a pair of RBs coming in as true freshman arriving on campus when they return to practice on Monday, but Samson Evans spent his high school career as a QB and was originally projected as a wide receiver at Iowa. While Henry Geil may push for early reps, relying on a true freshman for meaningful minutes at a position like RB isn’t common in the Ferentz era.
Fortunately, the Hawkeyes got some great news with the surprise addition of a JUCO All-American RB enrolling at Iowa. Mekhi Sargent arrives in Iowa City coming off a phenomenal season at Iowa Western Community College where he racked up 1,449 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Reivers.
A look at his film shows a good combination of power and speed despite a smaller frame. Sargent is listed at 5’11” and 215 pounds, but likely stands closer to 5’9”. That doesn’t stop him from blowing through arm tackles and running past secondary defenders. He also displays a willingness and ability to block, as well as catch the ball out of the backfield. Those are all traits that should allow Sargent to climb the depth chart and see meaningful reps in a thin backfield.
Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier had this to say to Hawkeye Report:
“Mekhi is a complete back. Great vision, breaks through arms tackles, great in pass protection, a great route runner and great hands. He always gets positive yards. He fits what the Iowa running game is all about. He’s a tough, physical running back.”
Fellow Reivers coach Donnie Woods also had high praise for Sargent:
Been around a lot of good ones. He’s the best we ever had. Tough, smart, great hands out of backfield. Huge pickup.— Donnie Woods (@CoachWoods) June 10, 2018
Sargent is originally from Key West, Florida, where he prepped at Key West High School. He accumulated more than 4300 rushing yards and 47 touchdowns in three years at the high school level. As a senior, Sargent ran for nearly 2100 yards and 27 TDs on 171 carries for an average of 12.2 yards per carry.
He joins the Hawkeyes with three years to play three, having taken his redshirt season as a freshman before his breakout year in 2017. It’s unclear whether he will immediately be on scholarship with Iowa given the Hawkeyes are currently one scholarship over the limit of 85 they’ll need to meat before fall camp opens.
By all accounts, Sargent appears to be a tremendous late addition to the class of 2018 with a chance to make an impact immediately.
Welcome aboard Mekhi Sargent!