Iowa running back Jewel Hampton escapes Minnesota's Kyle Theret to dive into the end zone for a touchdown in the fourth quarter at the Metrodome in Minneapolis on Nov. 22 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
First-team running back Jewel Hampton has suffered a couple of minor injuries this spring, but nothing to hinder the incoming sophomore starter.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Hampton “suffered an injury Saturday” but should return to practice by late this week.
“He went into spring with a little bit of a hamstring pull, and it was just a strain, which was good,” Ferentz said today in a teleconference with Big Ten football coaches. “So he missed his work a the front end.
“He had a near-miss on Saturday but he’s going to be fine. I’m not sure if he’ll practice on Wednesday; that’s kind of iffy but we expect back end of the week so he’s doing a good job.”
Hampton played in all 13 games and rushed for 463 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Hampton (5-foot-9, 210 pounds) competes with junior Paki O’Meara and red-shirt freshman Jeff Brinson to replace All-American Shonn Greene.
Ferentz did say it was almost impossible to replace Greene, who rushed for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns last year. Greene was a consensus All-American and was named the Doak Walker Award winner as the nation’s best college running back. He likely will be selected in the second or third round in next week’s NFL draft.
“We don’t expect to replace Shonn,” Ferentz said. “It would kind of like replacing a guy like (Indianapolis Colts safety) Bob Sanders or (Indianapolis Colts tight end) Dallas Clark or for that matter, (Mitch) King and (Matt) Kroul. Guys that have had tremendous careers here and great production, and Shonn just had extraordinary production a year ago.
“So we don’t expect any one person to fill that void but we’ve got a capable group back there. At the end of the day, by the end of the season we should be able to have guys play well at that position. And I think you’ll probably see several guys contribute as opposed to Shonn being the featured a guy a year ago.”
Here’s a complete transcription of Ferentz’s teleconference with reporters earlier today:
ON RUNNING BACKS
The way we finished the season, we finished with Jewel Hampton as our second-team guy. He moves up a line. We’ve got Paki O’Meara, who has done a good job the past year to continue to improve, and he’d be our second-team guy and Jeff Brinson, a young man we red-shirted a year ago, he’d be our No. 3 man. So those are the three guys that have gotten the most extensive work this spring.
ON REPLACING SHONN GREENE
We don’t expect to replace Shonn. It would kind of like replacing a guy like Bob Sanders or Dallas Clark or for that matter, (Mitch) King and (Matt) Kroul. Guys that have had tremendous careers here and great production, and Shonn just had extraordinary production a year ago. So we don’t expect any one person to fill that void but we’ve got a capable group back there. At the end of the day, by the end of the season we should be able to have guys play well at that position. And I think you’ll probably see several guys contribute as opposed to Shonn being the featured a guy a year ago.
ON OPENING THE BIG TEN SCHEDULE AT PENN STATE
I’ll make this prediction: Playing Penn State next year or 10 years from now will be tough. Playing there is tough and that’s pretty predictable. It’s not 100 percent but it’s probably over 90 that we open on the road. That’s our trademark. However the computer shakes out, we always seem to open up on the road, a high percentage of road games. The good news is after that game we’ll have four on the road and three at home.
It will be a tough challenge. Hopefully we’ll be playing good football.
ON JEWEL HAMPTON’S HEALTH
Jewel, he is … he suffered an injury Saturday. Actually he went into spring with a little bit of a hamstring pull ,and it was just a strain, which was good so he missed his work at the front end. He had a near-miss on Saturday, but he’s going to be fine. I’m not sure if he’ll practice on Wednesday; that’s kind of iffy but we expect back end of the week so he’s doing a good job.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE UPDATE
As far as the defensive tackle position, it’s really a scenario like I described with the running back position. I think we’re seeing some good things out of the guys who are practicing right now, most notably Karl Klug, Mike Daniels and Steve Bigach and then also when Cody Hundertmark gets back, he’s one of six guys sitting out coming off of surgery, we expect him to go, too. So probably the combination of those four players right there all of those guys will probably be rotating in and out. Just like Shonn went the distance for us at running back, King and Kroul have done the same thing for us. I think probably next year what we’re looking at is playing all four of those guys, I’m not sure in what roles, all those guys being involved. And Travis Meade, we haven’t made many position changes, but Travis jumped over there and did some good things this spring, too. So I think it’s going to be defensive tackle-by-committee if you will, but I think we will be fine.
WHO IS CATCHING KIRK’S EYE?
I told you it’s always fun to see who’s improving, and two guys I mentioned right off the top, and I don’t think either of them are going to make headlines, I don’t see either of them starting next year, but Broderick Binns was a guy who was really improving during the course of the last season and really seemed to kind of caught my eye from our bye week on last year in October. He’s a backup defensive end, but he’s a young player who’s really making strides. If I was going to single out a guy on the offensive side I’d say Adam Gettis, who’s a young offensive lineman. I think he was 220 pounds or 225 pounds coming out of high school, and he’s had a great spring. I don’t foresee him starting next year but I think his future looks really bright. If I was to pick two guys who have emerged, it would be those. Again, I don’t think either will catch headlines because they’re both linemen, they aren’t really projected to start, but they’ve done a nice job. I think we’re seeing some progress as we look around. It just hasn’t been maybe as consistent as you hope.
ON QB RICK STANZI’S IMPROVEMENT, TEAM LEADERS AND DACE RICHARDSON
I think he’s just like you hope every player coming out his third year. You hope to see a little bit more maturity and you hope to see a little bit better work habits and those types of things. Not that he was ever lacking, and part of being a college football player is just being and accepting responsibility, and we’re seeing that. I think if we’re really, if I was to pick two guys out, that have grown as leaders, I think Rick would be one of I would identify and I think Pat Angerer the same way. And I describe that a year ago, they both were just trying to get to the field and they both got to the field in the fall and they both played pretty well and had some success and with that. Now they’re able to put their hands around and add responsibility of being leaders and that’s really pleasing, too. Talking about guys who have grown or improved, the other guy I’d throw in there is Dace Richardson. Knock on wood, we’ll reserve judgment on that, but he’s out practicing now. I think he missed the first two workouts, he’s got class conflict on Wednesdays so we’ve missed a couple there, but he’s been able to practice this spring and he looks like a very rusty football player, but he’s really happy and I think he’s just very excited to be back on the field. We’re excited about that, too.
RESTORING THE OFFENSIVE LINE’S TRADITION?
I don’t have any problem with the group that we had in 2007 other than they were young. We were like that back in … I’m like pulling out ancient history, you probably weren’t even born then, but we went through the same thing in 84. We enjoyed 83, we had a veteran group and we had a dumb-crap line coach back then we had seven seniors on our two-deep so 83 was a lot of fun. 84 was a lot of growing paints. I think that was kind of similar to what we went through in 2007. This group has worked hard; we have no idea what our starting lineup is going to be right now. But we’ve got a group that’s going to be representative and we’re just a little bit more mature and little further along physically and mentally than we were in 2007. That was nobody’s fault; it’s just that we were young, that’s all. And we paid for it a little bit, but we’re a little bit more veteran now and that’s a good thing.
ON BRYAN BULAGA
He’s a good guy to coach. He’s pretty good physically and he’s got a great attitude so we’re just thrilled he’s on our football team. A guy who works hard, like he does and has an attitude like he does, it’s a contagious thing. He takes care of his business, but he also makes other guys better and that’s … there’s nothing wrong with good players and that’s what good players do. They not only play well, but they make other guys better and Bryan certainly fits that bill.