Posted by Adam Jacobi
It's hard not to feel for Iowa running back Jewel Hampton. The unheralded recruit burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2008, rushing for 463 yards and scoring seven touchdowns in a reserve role behind Shonn Greene, and looked to be tailor-made for Iowa's starting role after Greene departed early for the NFL.
That plan quickly went south, unfortunately, when Hampton tore his right ACL during the summer of '09, causing Iowa to turn to freshmen Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher for the course of 2009. With Hampton redshirting during his season off, Iowa looked to have three experienced sophomores in its tailback stable this year, and up to nine total.
But Wegher left the team before the season, and now the Hawkeyes have confirmed that Hampton tore his left ACL during last weekend's 34-27 loss to Arizona. The injury means, obviously, that Hampton is out for the rest of the season.
Also during last week's game, reserve tailback Paki O'Meara suffered a concussion during special teams play, and he is out indefinitely. With that, Robinson is now the only running back with any game experience left in Iowa's backfield. Robinson's backup looks to be true freshman Marcus Coker, a highly touted prospect out of Maryland who's now healthy but missed significant amounts of practice time with a shoulder injury.
If there's any consolation for Iowa fans, it's that in 2004, Iowa had a disastrous road trip to the state of Arizona, then lost basically every single running back for the season... at which point the team promptly rattled off eight straight wins en route to a Capital One Bowl victory. So there is positive precedent. But at the same time, that near-miraculous finish to the season was so improbable that we're pretty sure no member of the Iowa staff ever wanted to go through that scenario again. And yet just six years later, here they are.