A potential solution to Iowa’s biggest problem arrived this past week.
Three-star wide receiver Desmond Hutson committed to Iowa. His pledge is good news for a team in need of a passing game revival.
Hutson’s commitment also does an important thing. It diverts attention away from the wide receiver problem.
Running back is a bigger position of need than wide receiver for 2019 and the Hutson commitment may now let this important conversation come to the forefront.
On the surface, it seems strange to focus on running back. Sophomores Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin show promise and are vying to start. The future is bright.
But the future is also a little murky.
Kyshaun Bryan, coming off a redshirt, was the only other scholarship running back to take part in spring practice. Sophomore Toks Akinribade’s future is uncertain as he deals with an undisclosed medical condition.
Running back depth is a problem. That’s a sentence Iowa fans don’t want to hear, not when some believe in a curse surrounding Iowa running backs.
Running backs get banged up. It comes with the territory of having defenders slam you to the ground on every carry. Injuries are common. It’s why the Hawkeyes tend to rotate multiple running backs
College coaches, including at Iowa, are fond of saying you can never have too many running backs.
Right now, Iowa lacks the bodies to go through a preseason scrimmage, let alone a game. Incoming freshman Henry Geil will provide reinforcements. Iowa is starting freshman Samson Evans in the backfield too, but his future might be at wide receiver.
Iowa doesn’t want to get caught again like it did in 2012, when injures forced Mark Weisman, originally a fullback, into the feature back role.
It’s why running back matters in the 2019 class. The Hawkeyes are looking to bring up two to help fortify the position.
They don’t hold a running back commitment yet, but it’s not necessarily a reason for concern, like at quarterback.
Iowa is sitting in good position with 4-star back Jirehl Brock and 3-star prospects Jacaria Wright and Tyler Goodson. Landing two of them would qualify as a successful recruiting haul.
Brock is the kind of potential impact recruit Iowa’s lacked at a skill position in recent classes. Four-star David Bell is the same kind of player at wide receiver.
As long as Bell is considering Iowa, wide receiver will stay in the spotlight. Bell is the kind of prospect capable of helping Iowa’s receiving corps in its quest for better, and more consistent production.
But here is a secret. The players who will likely dictate the future of the wide receiver position are already on campus. The Hawkeyes signed at least seven in the last two classes, with it being eight if Evans winds up at receiver.
The young receivers are the core of players who will dictate both the short- and long-term success at the position. Sophomores Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette already populate the depth chart and sophomore Max Cooper could see an expanded role this season.
In time, the 2019 wide receivers will factor in, as well. Hutson is a tall, lanky receiver with a flair for making the big play in high school. The Hawkeyes could use some of that in the passing game.
They could also use running backs. Don’t forget that the next time the conversation turns to wide receivers.