Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz remains cautious but optimistic on running back Jewel Hampton’s injured knee.
Hampton, a 5-foot-9, 210-pound sophomore, suffered a knee injury during conditioning drills on July 3. His status has been up in the air since. Through Iowa radio play-by-play voice Gary Dolphin, Ferentz said a week ago that Hampton could be ready for the Sept. 5 opener against Northern Iowa.
Thursday, Ferentz said it looks positive for Hampton, who, behind Doak Walker Award winner Shonn Greene, put up one of the best seasons ever for a true freshman running back at Iowa, gaining 463 yards and scoring seven rushing TDs. He also averaged 23.3 yards a kick return, which was sixth in the Big Ten.
“We’re hopeful, we’re optimistically hopeful,” Ferentz said. “He injured his knee. All signs have been very, very positive since that time.
“We’ll certainly know more when we hit the practice field, maybe sooner. But I think right now everything’s been very positive. We’re optimistic that we’re going to be there.”
Freshmen report in Iowa City for fall camp Aug. 5. Practice starts Aug. 8.
Freshman offensive lineman Riley Reiff and his status with the team have been the subject of internet speculations all summer. There is no truth to anything out there. He is on the team.
“He’s here,” Ferentz said. “He’s doing great.”
Offensive tackle Kyle Calloway and cornerback Shaun Prater face suspensions after OWI arrests this spring and summer. Prater’s arrest was Feb. 28 and Calloway’s was June 20.
An OWI (operating while intoxicated) arrest earns at least a one-game suspension according to Ferentz’s team policy. Mitigating factors — including when it happens, a player’s history and their time in Iowa’s program — could affect the length of the suspension.
Since mid-April 2007, 26 Iowa football players have been arrested or issued citations. Twenty of the players had charges or citations related to alcohol or drug use/possession.
Players haven’t been banned from going into downtown Iowa City, Ferentz said.
“I wouldn’t say banned, but we’re controlling the environment the best we can and trying to explain to guys why the requirements we have right now,” Ferentz said. “I don’t want guys to be in a totally controlled environment their entire careers, but we just all have to understand where we are right now.”