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Harty: Garmon quitting sends the wrong message

[ 0 ] December 13, 2012 |

The worst thing about running back Greg Garmon quitting the Iowa football team is that it sends the wrong message at the wrong time.

There’s never a good time to lose a former four-star recruit such as Garmon, who showed flashes as a true freshman this past season.

But it’s horrible timing when it comes on the heels of a 4-8 season and during a bizarre and much-publicized stretch of running back attrition at Iowa.

From a depth standpoint, it’s not a big deal because running back might be the deepest position on the team next season, even without Garmon returning.

I know what you’re thinking; Iowa can never have enough depth at running back, considering the high rate of attrition and the constant threat of injuries.

Garmon is thinking about himself, though, which is only natural for a kid trying to make his mark.

He’s claiming that Iowa isn’t the right fit for him. That’s probably Garmon’s way of saying he doesn’t like where he fits on the depth chart behind juniors-to-be Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock. Garmon also might not like how his skills fit into Iowa’s conservative offensive scheme.

More power to him, but in fairness to the Iowa coaches, Garmon didn’t show enough in his brief playing time this fall, and apparently, not enough during practice, to deserve to be ahead of Weisman or Bullock on the depth chart.

Garmon also would’ve had to compete for playing time with fellow running backs Jordan Canzeri, Barkley Hill and Michael Malloy, along with perhaps an incoming freshman, if one ultimately joins the 2013 recruiting class. Canzeri and Hill will be returning from ACL knee injuries, but it’s common these days for running backs to fully recover from that type of injury.

So perhaps Garmon took into account how much Iowa struggled on offense this season under first-year coordinator Greg Davis, how much the coaches relied on the 235-pound Weisman to carry the rushing load when he was healthy and how many running backs will be competing for playing time and figured the opportunities would be few and far between so why bother staying?

Whatever the case, it just looks bad for an Iowa program that has lost 17 of its last 29 games, including the final six games this past season to lose a former marquee recruit who clearly had some of the skills needed to help breathe life into a deflated offense.

Garmon is the seventh Iowa running back with eligibility remaining to leave the program since 2010 and the fourth in this calendar year. None of them with exception to Jewel Hampton, who transferred to Southern Illinois in 2010 and now plays for the San Francisco 49ers, have done much to distinguish themselves on the playing field since leaving Iowa.

Marcus Coker also rushed for 1,018 yards for Stony Brook as a junior this past season, but he wasn’t his team’s featured back. Stony Brook competes in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Garmon will have the luxury of being able to redshirt next season since he played as a true freshman. That also probably weighed heavily in Garmon’s decision to transfer because he won’t lose a year of eligibility while sitting out under NCAA transfer rules.

You can’t help but wonder, though, if his decision to bolt after just one semester is also because Garmon knows the offense will pretty much stay the same, with one featured running back being used almost exclusively in a grind-it-out approach.

Injuries prevented the Iowa coaches from mixing and matching the running backs this past season because Garmon, Bullock and Weisman rarely were healthy at the same time.

But it’ll be a waste of resources and a lack of imagination if the Iowa coaches don’t figure a way to get more of the running backs on the field at the same time.

I’ve suggested that they create a wingback position, which is sort of a combination of a running back and slot receiver, and figured Garmon would’ve been a good candidate given his quickness and elusiveness.

My biggest knock on Garmon this past season is that he appeared to run tentatively between the tackles. He probably could’ve used a redshirt season to get bigger and stronger, but injuries prevented that from happening.

The few times Garmon found space, though, you could see the open-field skills that made him a prize recruit coming out of Erie, Pa. Garmon seems better suited for a spread offense, so now it’s up to him to find the right fit.

 

 

 

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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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