IOWA CITY — It didn’t look good and it wasn’t.
When true freshman running back Barkley Hill went down and stayed down on the Kinnick Stadium turf last Saturday, head coach Kirk Ferentz was one of the first on the scene. You just kind of knew. Then, Hill couldn’t put weight on his left leg. That was somewhat telling. And then he was taken to the lockerroom via golf cart. At no point was there a positive sign.
Tuesday, Iowa announced that Hill, a 6-0, 210-pounder, was lost for the season with an ACL injury. Iowa also confirmed that safety Ruben Lile, another true freshman, also is out for the year with an ACL injury.
“Barkley Hill’s knee injury during Saturday’s practice will require ACL reconstruction surgery later this week,” Ferentz said in a statment. “Ruben Lile suffered a similar injury earlier during camp and had successful surgery last week.”
Hill rushed for more than 6,000 yards during his prep career at Cedar Falls High School. He suffered a sprained MCL of his right knee late during his senior season. Hill had crossed the goal line when fullback Jacob Reisen and cornerback Torrey Campbell banged into him. Hill’s knee buckled and he feel to the FieldTurf, where he stayed for several minutes.
So, running back.
Sophomore Damon Bullock has held the No. 1 spot since last spring and remains there going into Iowa’s season opener Sept. 1 at Solider Field against Northern Illinois. After Bullock, true freshman Greg Garmon will likely be the No. 2. He led the Hawkeyes with 43 yards on 11 carries last weekend.
True freshman walk-on Michael Malloy (6-0, 180) also got carries last week. Junior walk-on Andre Dawson, who rushed for nearly 5,000 yards during his career at Cedar Rapids Washington, also will see his profile rise. He ran with the third-team offense last week and gained 26 yards on six carries.
Fullback Brad Rogers has some running back experience, but he hasn’t played in a game at the position since Ball State during the 2010 non-conference schedule.
Since the end of last season, Iowa has had three running backs leave school with off-field issues (Marcus Coker, Mika’il McCall and De’Andre Johnson) and has had two more running backs suffer torn ACLs. Along with Hill, sophomore Jordan Canzeri injured his knee in March during spring practice.
The plan with Canzeri’s rehab in July shifted when the Iowa staff told him to stay in Iowa City instead of going home to Troy, N.Y., for the summer. The 5-9, 180-pounder returned to practice Tuesday in non-contact mode.
During Iowa’s media day on Aug. 6, Canzeri said if he’s able to get back this season, he would because he wants to contribute.
Ferentz has never completely shut the door on a 2012 return for Canzeri , who started the Insight Bowl last season and gained 86 yards and a TD on 28 touches.
“We will see. He is doing well,” Ferentz said during Big Ten media days on July 27. “We will probably be conservative on that one. You never want to say never.”
In case you’re wondering, to a man, the Iowa running backs reject any idea that it’s a cursed position.
“We make jokes about it here and there,” Canzeri said, “but we don’t believe in it, even with the things that have happened. You just can’t have something like that be over your shoulders and you can’t let something negative like that be in your head.”