(This is more from the bowl trip, BTW. I’m kind of looking ahead with this material.)
I don’t like it, it certainly makes my job more difficult, but I do understand Kirk Ferentz’s thing about not allowing freshmen to talk to the media. I don’t like it, but I don’t harbor any bitterness. If I were a coach, I’d do the same thing.
So, the St. Petersburg TV guy stopped Iowa freshman RB Jeff Brinson on the field after the Hawkeyes beat South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Brinson asked Chigozie Ejiasi, Iowa’s Dr. Phil coach, if he could. The answer was yes and Brinson was allowed to give five seconds to hometown TV.
I saw the other freshman running back, Jewel Hampton, coming off the field. He looked like he wanted to talk, but my thought was, see you in the spring.
Obviously, with Shonn Greene off to the NFL — best decision for him, IMO — these guys are on the clock.
Hampton will have a hand in Iowa’s running game next fall. In spot duty behind Greene, Hampton, 5-9, 200 pounds, had one of the best seasons ever for a true freshman running back at Iowa, rushing for 463 yards (5.1 yards a carry) and freshman record of seven TDs.
At Iowa, those are superior numbers for a true freshman. I have Tony Stewart for 326 yards and two TDs in 1987. If anyone has another with stats, please let me know.
“The future looks bright for Jewel,” offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe said. “He’s got a lot of the things that we’re looking for.”
Brinson, a 5-11, 220-pounder, could push for time. He redshirted this season, but came in with sparkling credentials and could fit that big back model that worked so well this season for the Hawkeyes.
In his career at Northeast (St. Petersburg, Fla.) High School, Brinson rushed for nearly 5,000 yards and 67 touchdowns.
Here’s a little bit from the signing day story I wrote on him last February:
The 5-11, 211-pounder was offered 30 scholarships, picking the Hawkeyes over Florida and several Big Ten schools.
He runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. In the innumerable stories written about his exploits last fall, “Big Ten” is the most popular descriptor.
“I’m probably more a bruising-type back with some speed. That’s probably what I’m defined as,” Brinson said. “I think my coaches have prepared me for the pounding. Also, I think I have the body for it. I’m 211, I can be more physical and take more pounding. I have that mind-set.”
Iowa has been burned by character in recruiting and has whiffed on more than a few Florida prospects. Brinson seems to have his house in order in that regard.
He goes to church three days a week and wants to become an ordained minister. He works at Kmart. He wants to major in civil engineering at Iowa, with an eye toward joining the family contracting business.
“This is what you get with Jeff Brinson,” Northeast Coach Jay Austin told the St. Petersburg Times. “You get a kid of the highest character. You get a kid who will never hurt your Academic Progress Rate, used to measure the success of colleges graduating their players. You get a kid who practices hard, and who takes care of his body, who always has his book bag with him and isn’t walking around the school hallways and is always first in line for sprints.”
After the Outback, offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde talked about what Iowa players saw in Brinson in practice all season. He also acknowledged what Hampton did on the field last season.
“I think between Jewel and Brinson we’re going to have a 1-2 running attack that can stand up to anybody in the country,” Vandervelde said. “With Shonn leaving, of course, it’s a hit, but as long as our offensive line continues to improve and with the things that we’ve seen with Jewel on the field and Brinson on the practice field, I really don’t feel we’ll lose too much ground.”
Ferentz heard questions on Brinson a few times in Tampa, pretty much Brinson’s home base.
At some point last season, Brinson came close to playing. When Greene suffered an ankle injury at Indiana on Oct. 11, Brinson had his number changed from 34 to 44 just in case he had to see some time returning kicks. Special teamer Chris Rowell wears No. 34.
“Back in August that was a possibility for us and if there was any question at all, we were going to push him forward.” Ferentz said. “He was in that position to be pushed forward. We opted not to because we didn’t have to.”
Brinson had an asthma issue that held him back in fall camp, Ferentz said.
“He had a little asthma problem, which isn’t huge for guys coming out of warm-weather climates. They seem to experience that a little bit more,” Ferentz said. “I thought he kind of started slow. The tempo of things was a little much, but I thought he worked through that very well. That’s part of the reason we had him as a guy who could be in our plans. The arrow went up on him.”
Hampton gained 2,095 yards and scored 27 TDs his senior year at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis.
Hampton’s credentials aren’t in the same ballpark as Brinson’s. After he split time with Virginia Tech recruit Darren Evans (who rushed for 2,600 yards and 61 TDs as a senior) his junior year, Hampton’s only other scholarship offer came from Ball State.
That didn’t bother Iowa.
“I think there’s going to be a big-time competition for playing time,” said Hampton (during an interview last Feb.), who was named after his dad, Jewel Hampton Sr. “The best man is going to come out on top and I’m ready to work for it.”
Will incoming recruits factor?
Sioux City Heelan’s Brandon Wegher was massively productive for the Class 3A state champions. The 5-11, 206-pounder rushed for 3,238 yards and 51 TDs. I know, it’s not the big leagues, but that’s above-and-beyond production.
That said, I think Wegher is looking at a redshirt if he’s an RB at Iowa. Hampton and Brinson have film. Also, don’t forget Adam Robinson, a late signee who redshirted this season.
Brad Rogers, Iowa’s other RB recruit, is a big body at 5-9, 230. He missed some of his senior season at Toledo (Ohio) Catholic Central. I’m thinking redshirt, but if his 230 pounds is solid, who knows?
Can’t close the book on any of these guys. If nothing else, Shonn Greene taught us that this year.