This season hasn’t quite gone the way we expected for Iowa football player Ivory Kelly-Martin, but using the new redshirt rule might make sense for him.
Heading into this season, it was expected that Mekhi Sargent would at least start out as the lead back for the Iowa football team with last year’s opening-game starter Ivory Kelly-Martin and Toren Young rotating in as necessary to give the Hawks a solid and experienced trio of running backs.
However, freshman Tyler Goodson was a revelation in camp and has quickly earned himself a role in this offense, which left Kelly-Martin as the odd man out.
To date, the speedy Illinois running back has logged just six carries and caught two passes while appearing only three games. And since he hasn’t redshirted yet, it presents an interesting case for both him and the Iowa football team.
Do they sit him or do they play him?
Obviously, first and foremost the Hawks want to win football games, but if they have the opportunity to save a guy’s eligibility, that is quite intriguing. In Kelly-Martin’s case, barring injury, I think it makes a ton of sense for him.
If he wants to stick it out with the Iowa football program going forward, this would leave him as the lone senior running back with experience in two seasons when Sargent and Young graduate, which likely means an increase in snaps.
If he decides to seek playing time elsewhere (which there has been no report of at this point), this would give him two years of eligibility to integrate into another schools’ football program.
Either way, it wouldn’t be “wasting” a year of eligibility with 15 carries of the course of a season for a guy who was expecting to be the starter in Iowa City.
It sounds like Kirk gets that as well. Here is what he had to say when addressing the media on Tuesday.
"I think right now we would be smart to try to protect Ivory if we can. But we’re also trying to win this year. It’s kind of we’ll stay flexible on it. Yeah, we’d sure like to not waste a year of his eligibility if we can."
While not exactly the original intention of the redshirt rule, the four-game window does provide a unique opportunity in this situation for a guy who has worked his butt off in the Iowa football program but just isn’t getting the opportunities right now in a crowded backfield.
As long as there are no major injuries to the running back position, this makes a ton of sense to me.