In the early Iowa football offensive depth, the running back group consisted of Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young. So where does Ivory Kelly-Martin fit in?
Last season, Mekhi Sargent became the feature back by the end of the year for Kirk Ferentz’ Iowa football team. He put up dazzling performances against Illinois and Nebraska to close out the regular season on his way to a total 745 rushing yards, 9 touchdowns, and a 4.7 yards-per-carry average.
Toren Young was utilized a lot in the second half of games a year ago. The thought was that Sargent would set the tone and Young would wear opponents down being the bruiser back that he is.
When Iowa released their early offensive depth chart, both Sargent and Young appeared on it but lost in all of this is Ivory Kelly-Martin.
Kelly-Martin came to Iowa as a 3-star recruit from Oswego East High School and figured to be the successor to Akrum Wadley after he moved on. However, things didn’t go as planned as he sustained an ankle injury in the 2018 opener against Northern Illinois and would go on to miss the next two games as well.
He started to get more carries in the middle of the season with a season-high 98 yards on 24 attempts in the victory over Maryland but his production significantly tapered off after that. Kelly-Martin fumbled on Iowa’s final drive in the home loss against Northwestern and we all know what happens to underclassmen who fumble. They get buried in the depth chart which is exactly what we’re seeing so far.
So what exactly will his role be in the 2019 season? I like to think that he will compliment Sargent where he can but I expect Young to have a larger role this season as Kirk Ferentz stated at Big Ten Media Days. He went on to say that the Madison, Wisconsin native is an “underappreciated” back.
Personally, I thought Kelly-Martin would be entering the transfer portal in the offseason, especially given the 1-2 punch in Sargent and Young and the expected increase in workload for Henry Geil and potential carries for other guys like Shadrick Byrd and Tyler Goodson.
We’ll have to wait and see how Kirk Ferentz wants to utilize Kelly-Martin this season. If any more injuries cause him to miss time, we might see him enter his name into the NCAA transfer portal after the 2019 season.