Barkley Hill was committed to Iowa State for nearly nine months. Both sides -- Iowa State and Iowa fans -- probably agree on this more than they think.
Bottom line, Hill is a better fit for Iowa's one-cut zone blocking than Iowa State's zone read 0-to-60 out of the spread.
Hill will walk onto the Iowa campus 6-0 and maybe 215 to 220 pounds. That sounds a lot like a lot of Iowa's recent backs. Not quite Marcus Coker's 230. Probably not Shonn Greene's 225. Hill is a great Iowa back starter kit, and I think fans from both sides can objectively see that.
“Iowa fits my running style,” said Hill, who is named after NBA legend Charles Barkley. “They have a need for people at my position and that’s a fit. It was tough, but it was the best thing for me.”
Iowa coaches have told Hill, who rushed for 6,127 yards and 89 touchdowns in his career at Cedar Falls High School, that playing time is there for him in 2012 if he goes out and earns it.
“I like running between the tackles more than anything,” Hill said.
And, no, Hill isn’t scared off by the recent history of Iowa running backs not making it to year two or three in the program.
“Those were unfortunate situations where people didn’t make the best decisions,” said Hill, who wants to be 215 or 220 pounds before fall camp. “Just stay out of trouble and move on.”
With the departures of Coker and Mika’il McCall, sophomore Jordan Canzeri likely will be the No. 1 back going into spring practice. As a 172-pound true freshman, Canzeri rushed for a team-high 58 yards and caught six passes, including a TD, in a 31-14 loss to Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl. Canzeri is getting closer to 185 pounds now.
From ESPN.com: Barkley grows on you as a running back prospect. He is a non-flashy runner but very consistent, tough and productive. Has a solid build on a sturdy frame but is narrow through his hips and lower-body. Not a homerun threat but he has deceptive straight-line speed and outside burst for a downhill runner. This is a North-South back who shows adequate vision and patience finding the downhill seam and more than adequate burst when he hits it. Gets North with good determination and solid pad level, particularly through traffic. Shows above average redirection and lateral cutting skills to avoid the first defender through the hole. He can see and hit the cutback. . . . Overall, Barkley would likely need to land in a run oriented, two-back offense to have some success. We see a mid-major talent level at this time, but a runner who can produce between the tackles at that level and become an every-down back.
What Iowa coaches said
Head coach Kirk Ferentz (Asked about the switch): That's probably a good question for Barkley and his family. But we continued to recruit him respectfully, if you will. Just kept the line in the water. Came back and visited with him on occasion. Not frequent, but on occasion. I think over a period of time, maybe he just felt -- I don't want to speak for him -- but maybe he felt this style of offense might be better suited for him. I think that's probably as big a factor as anything. But I'd let him answer that. We're just thrilled that he chose to come here. We're very excited about that.
Recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson: He is a good-looking kid. He is a big kid. [Responding to my observation that he was a lot bigger than I thought he'd be.] Iowa State did a great job evaluating him early. We just kept going through the process with him and trying to get him to feel more comfortable with us. In the end, it turned out to be that way. I think he felt a little more comfortable in a pro-style offense. We were fortunate enough to get him. He's a tremendous player. He's a tremendous in-state player. He fills a big-time need at a position for us.
What I think
I disagree with the ESPN eval. I think Hill has the perfect build for Iowa's pro-style offense. There was no stopwatch on the Cedar Falls High School stage, so I can't honestly gauge quickness or speed. Looks, I caught a Ladell Betts vibe from Hill. Or maybe an Aaron Greving. And before you go nuts on an Greving comparison (he was offensive MVP of the 2001 Alamo Bowl and eventually quit the team), I thought Greving was on track to have a good career at Iowa. He ruined an ankle and that, along with a stacked depth chart and love for baseball, eventually led to his departure.
I wouldn't be shocked if Hill snagged 150 carries and 500 yards next season. The opportunity is there, he's been told, he needs to show them in fall camp that he can be trusted. But I really think he's made for Iowa's offense.