RUNNING BACK DE’ANDRE JOHNSON
Arrival: The 5-8, 200-pounder came out of Miami (Fla.) Monsignor Pace High School with one pretty good junior season (1,121 yards) and a torn ACL. He suffered the injury two weeks into his senior season. It sent recruiters scattering. Iowa stayed strong.
Iowa assistant coach Rick Kaczenski, the Hawkeyes’ primary recruiter in Florida when Johnson signed in ’10, didn’t blink when Johnson said he tore his ACL.
“Coach Kaczenski called me the day after the injury,” Johnson said. “I told him and he said, just get back to me and let me know how you’re doing. His voice was basically the same. He said, ‘Really? That’s like a broken finger. We’ll treat it like a broken finger and let it heal.’
“He was the only coach who said that.”
Johnson, who as a junior won the Florida High School Athletics Association Class 2A shot put title with a throw of 54-10, took a redshirt his freshman season. And then last season, he saw the field. A couple of times he saw the field.
Takeoff 2012: Iowa running back was nearly 100 percent Marcus Coker in 2011. His 280 carries were 62 percent of Iowa’s total attempts. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said he wanted to get a second back a shot and take some of the load off Coker. For whatever reason, that never happened.
Mika’il McCall had the job. It might’ve been interesting if he hadn’t suffered a broken ankle, took a suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules and subsequently transferred. Jordan Canzeri was a 170-something-pound true freshman. Jason White was an insurance policy. De’Andre Johnson had a cup of coffee, but didn’t seize the role.
He suffered an injury sometime in December and Canzeri got the start for the Insight Bowl.
During spring practice, Johnson was the clear No. 2. He had 15 carries for 116 yards, including a 58-yard TD run after he broke an arm tackle.
Every back on the roster, except White, was given a chance to take No. 2 carries after McCall’s injury. Johnson had a year on Canzeri and Damon Bullock, but they were at the same spot in line if not a little ahead.
Last season, Johnson was the sideline relay for running backs coach Lester Erb, who made personnel decisions from the press box. Johnson had to tell Canzeri that he was going into the game. The subtlety wasn’t lost on Johnson.
You get the feeling something is holding him back. His helmet is fully in the ring for whatever role he can carve out for himself. Never say never at Iowa running back, but the ball is in Johnson’s court as a third-year sophomore.
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