IOWA CITY, Iowa — Akrum Wadley’s flirtation with the NFL is over. The running back is coming back for his senior season at Iowa.
He announced his decision on Thursday.
“It was the right decision for me and my family,” said Wadley in a statement. “I met with my parents and we laid out the pros and cons, and came to the decision that it would be best for me to stay at Iowa for my senior year. The main three reasons are to earn my degree, to have another year to prepare physically, and to not end my collegiate career on a bad note; we have some unfinished business.”
Wadley said he was 50-50 about returning following the Outback Bowl. Initially, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz didn’t expect Wadley to turn pro when he didn’t request information from the NFL advisory committee.
“I would like to thank coach Ferentz,” said Wadley in a statement. “We had good conversations and he let me know that he would be there either way, he would have my back. I also want to express my appreciation for all the support from my teammates, and the great and loyal Iowa fans.”
Wadley considered the NFL after a breakout junior season where he earned third-team all-conference honors while rushing for 1,081 yards and 10 touchdowns and caught 36 receptions for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns.
He was never projected as an early-round pick by draft prognosticators. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. did rate Wadley as his No. 6 running back. Wadley was most likely a late-round pick if he entered the draft.
“It is positive news to know that Akrum has made the decision to be with our program for his senior season,” said Ferentz in a statement. “Akrum has displayed growth and maturity during his career, and had an outstanding season in 2016. We look forward to Akrum being a key member of our team in 2017.”
He was arguably Iowa’s offensive MVP last season as the team leaned on him and his playmaking ability as injuries derailed the passing game and offensive line. He very well could be the most important offensive player again in 2017.
The Hawkeyes will be breaking in a new quarterback and the wide receiver depth behind Matt VandeBerg is unproven. The Hawkeyes return more offensive linemen with starting experience than spots up front. Iowa will likely ask Wadley to shoulder more of the offensive load this upcoming season.
A good season could improve his standing with pro scouts heading into the 2018 draft.