Iowa football: Top 5 running backs in Kirk Ferentz era

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 24: Running back Akrum Wadley
LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 24: Running back Akrum Wadley /
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Iowa Hawkeyes,
Iowa Hawkeyes, /

The Hawkeyes struck gold when they found Akrum Wadley as part of the 2013 recruiting class.

The Iowa football team tapped into the New Jersey pipeline again, grabbing running back Akrum Wadley as part of their 2013 recruiting class. He would redshirt the 2013 season for the Hawkeyes but played five games in the 2014 season.

Wadley rushed for 186 yards on 33 carries that season playing largely behind Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri. He did not get the chance to showcase his skillset really until the 2016 season when both Canzeri and Weisman had moved on and Wadley became the man in the backfield.

In the 2016 season, Wadley carried the ball 168 times for 1,081 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also hauled in 36 receptions out of the backfield for 315 yards. He is easily the shiftiest and agile back that Kirk Ferentz ever had often making defenders look silly trying to tackle him.

Flash forward to 2017, Wadley repeated his 2016 season and then some. He carried the ball 252 times for 1,109 yards and matched his 2016 touchdown total. Opponents had such a tough time game planning for Wadley and really made first-year starting quarterback Nate Stanley’s job a lot easier in 2017.

If you recall with the Hawkeyes trailing by seven points against the Cyclones, Akrum Wadley hauled in a five-yard pass at the Iowa State 45-yard line and made several moves along the left sideline eventually scoring to tie the game with 1:09 left in the 4th quarter.

Later in the season against Penn State, Wadley hauled in a very similar pass from Nate Stanley and took it to the house for a 70-yard score with 10:02 left in the game. He was the most dynamic back in the Kirk Ferentz era but could not translate his skillset to the NFL.