Iowa running back Jordan Canzeri, listed as the starter at the beginning of spring practice, suffered a torn ACL in practice on Wednesday and will miss the 2012 season, according to sources.
Canzeri was injured while cutting in a non-contact drill. An MRI on Thursday revealed revealed the tear. There was no other structural damage. The 5-foot-9, 186-pounder played as a true freshman last season, so he has a redshirt available to him and will return as a sophomore in 2013.
The Troy, N.Y., native rushed for 114 yards and caught six passes for 28 yards and a touchdown. He started for the Hawkeyes in the Insight Bowl.
Canzeri’s injury thins an already shallow depth chart at running back.
Sophomore Damon Bullock, who rushed for 10 yards on six carries as a true freshman, will inherit No. 1 at least for the rest of spring practice. Sophomore De’Andre Johnson also will get a look. Immediately, walk-ons Andre Dawson, Marcus Binns and Steve Fiorella also are available.
In August, incoming freshman Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill will give the position a post. Iowa has used true freshman at running back in each of the last five seasons (Jevon Pugh, Jewel Hampton, Brandon Wegher, Marcus Coker and, in ’11, Canzeri, Bullock and Mika’il McCall).
It was just the third practice, but Canzeri ran with the first unit at the beginning Wednesday. Also Wednesday, running backs coach Lester Erb praised Canzeri’s effort in the Insight Bowl against Oklahoma, when Canzeri weighed all of 172 pounds. He was up to 186 this spring.
“He carried the ball 22 times in that bowl game, so he demonstrated a little bit of durability there for being not the biggest back out there,” Erb said. “But he’s got to improve on some things, pass protection and some of those other areas, and that’s what we are looking for.”
Erb also touched on Garmon and Hill. Garmon rushed for 2,859 yards and 27 TDs in his career at McDowell High School in Erie, Pa. Hill rushed for more than 6,000 yards and 89 TDs in three years as a starter at Cedar Falls High School.
“Both of them are a little bit bigger backs,” Erb said. “Greg is more of a slasher. But he shows he can get downhill and run tough. Very good speed.
“Then Barkley just had a tremendous high school career up there at Cedar Falls and we are excited to get him in here. Both guys have a passion for football and both guys are going to have a chance to come in here and compete.”
Will they be ready for the jump to the Big Ten?
“Depends how well they can pick up the system and how well they can hold the ball and how well they can protect the quarterback,” Erb said. “That all goes into it. And that’s not the end of our evaluation.
“It really comes down to the transition that they make into college, because, obviously, coming from high school to college, the game is going to be faster. We are going to demand more of them from a maturity standpoint. We have got to see how all of those things factor in.”