After a pair of run-ins with law enforcement last week, running back De’Andre Johnson was dismissed from the Iowa football team Wednesday, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said in a statement.
“I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better for De’Andre,” Ferentz said in a release. “We wish him all the best moving forward.”
Johnson was suspended from team activities Sunday after after University Heights police said he failed to pull over after speeding last Saturday. That entanglement came just two days after he was cited on suspicion of disorderly house on July 26 after Iowa City police were called out to reports of a loud party at his home.
A telling element in this is the timing. Iowa players finished summer conditioning on Thursday and are off until fall camp opens Friday. Incoming freshmen reported to Iowa City on Wednesday morning.
Johnson, a sophomore from Miami, Fla., who redshirted in 2010, saw action last fall in four games, rushing for 79 yards on 18 carries.
Ferentz has said Iowa will use every available running back on the roster. With Johnson’s departure, sophomore Damon Bullock is the last healthy running back on the roster with a carry in a Big Ten game. He was listed No. 1 in the preseason depth chart. Ferentz has said his skill set is geared more toward the passing game.
Iowa also has incoming freshmen Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill. Garmon was arrested and eventually charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in his hometown of Erie, Pa. Ferentz and Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said last week that it is considered strike one in Iowa’s student-athlete code of conduct. A first strike doesn’t call for a suspension from competition.
Hill, a 6-foot, 215-pounder, rushed for 6,127 yards and 89 TDs at Cedar Falls High School. He’s been in Iowa City since June working through Iowa’s summer conditioning program.
Also, junior walk-on Andre Dawson, a former Cedar Rapids Washington prep, could factor. He rushed for 4,885 yards and 64 TDs in his career at Washington. Dawson committed to UNI coming out of high school, but then transferred to Iowa Western Community College, where he rushed for 263 yards on 45 carries.
Sophomore Jordan Canzeri suffered a torn ACL this spring, but his rehab is progressing and the door remains open for a return at some point this season.
“We will see,” Ferentz said Friday. “He is doing well. We will probably be conservative on that one. You never want to say never.”
Penn State signee Akeel Lynch, a player Iowa recruited heavily before he signed with PSU in February, also is a possibility. He is in a summer school semester at Penn State until Aug. 8. The Nittany Lions start practice Aug. 6. That is the deadline for Penn State players to transfer if they want to play at their new school this season.
Lynch would have to decide sometime Sunday or before or not participate in Penn State practices to be free to move this season.
Lynch, who rushed for 2,132 yards and 30 TDs last season for St. Francis High School in Athol, N.Y., had 11 offers and took three visits, Iowa, Penn State and Boston College. So, there is an existing relationship between Iowa and Lynch.
During last week’s Big Ten media days, Iowa athletics director Gary Barta acknowledged that an unnamed Penn State player contacted Iowa. Sources confirmed that player was Lynch.
“Once [the NCAA] opened it up, our approach was whatever we do, let’s do it the right way,” Barta said. “We’ve been approached by one of the student-athletes. Kirk called Bill [first-year Penn State coach Bill O'Brien] and said, ‘Hey, I just want you to be aware of this.’ We’re not going to be aggressively recruiting, but we will take the calls and see where it goes.”