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Pat Harty: Bullock will be face of Hawkeye running backs at media day

[ 2 ] August 5, 2012 |

An Iowa football team with little depth at running back and with little preseason hype will be on display Monday at media day.

Damon Bullock had better be ready to converse, because unless the Iowa running backs are sent into hiding as a precautionary measure, he can expect to have tape recorders, cameras and cellphones shoved in his face throughout the annual event. Bullock is now a sophomore, which means he’s available for interviews, unlike the freshmen on the Iowa team.

Bullock will be asked some of the same questions over and over, but mostly he’ll be asked about the bizarre circumstances surrounding his position at running back.

Reporters will want to know why it’s so hard for the Iowa running backs to stay healthy and to stay out of trouble.

Some reporters might even remind Bullock about how things were at the start of last season.

A year ago there was Marcus Coker ready to build off a promising freshman season in 2010, which he did by rushing for 1,384 in 11 games before being suspended and then ultimately leaving the team.

There was Jordan Canzeri, Mika’il McCall and Bullock all ready to show off their stuff as incoming freshmen running backs.

But now Bullock is all that remains from the group. He’s the last man standing at a position of major importance on a team picked by most to finish near the bottom of the six-team Legends Division.

There’s a chance Canzeri could return this season from a knee injury he suffered in the spring, but it’s unlikely, especially because he has a redshirt season to use.

There is also a chance that one or both of the incoming freshmen running backs — Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill — will hit the ground running and make Bullock’s job easier, or tougher depending on how you look at it.

And there’s junior Brad Rogers, the anti-attrition at running back, ready and willing to do whatever the coaches ask of him.

Here’s a guy who overcame a heart condition to play running back at Iowa, while so many others couldn’t overcome their own behavior to do it.

It’ll be a inspiration if Rogers plays a significant role this season because of what he had to overcome. The depth chart indicates he will, considering Rogers and Bullock are listed as the co-starters at running back and Rogers also is listed as the starting fullback.

Bullock is sort of being overlooked at running back because he hasn’t played much, as evidenced by his 20 career rushing yards.

But he’s also been overlooked because much of the focus has been on the running back casualties, the latest being De’Andre Johnson, who was dismissed from the team Wednesday after two skirmishes with the law in a three-day period.

Fans are eager to see the two incoming freshmen running backs because there is always a sense of excitement with something new. It also helps that Garmon is a four-star prospect from talent-rich Pennsylvania and that Hill rushed for more than 6,000 yards and scored 89 touchdowns at Cedar Falls High School.

You figure at least one of them will make a key contribution simply because there aren’t many other options.

Running back is without question a concern because of the inexperience and instability. It’s also a sensitive topic with Iowa fans because of the high rate of attrition.

But if I were to rank my biggest concerns about the 2012 Iowa team, running back would only come in third place behind the uncertainty on the defensive line and at punter.

That might help explain why there’s so little pre-season hype.

Reach Pat Harty at 3397368 or pharty@press-citizen.com.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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