IOWA CITY, Iowa. — Running back Akrum Wadley is undecided about his future at Iowa, and his family is trying to solicit as many opinions as possible before making a final decision.
Wadley’s mother, Sharonda Phelps, told Landof10.com that the family is discussing his situation with agents and other people as Wadley weighs whether to return to Iowa for his senior year or enter the NFL draft. Phelps said she has not spoken with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz since Monday’s Outback Bowl.
“You can’t make everybody happy, but you don’t want to make a decision where a day or two later, you’re not like, if I could have known this?” Phelps said.
Wadley rushed for a team-best 1,081 yards this season at 6.4 yards per carry. He ran for 115 yards against both Michigan and Florida, which ranked second and sixth, respectively, in total defense. Wadley also was second at Iowa in receptions (36) and receiving yards (315). He burst for game-winning fourth-quarter touchdowns at Minnesota and Rutgers and hit for 75-yard scores against Purdue and Nebraska. He started only one game this year and scored a team-best 13 touchdowns.
Scouts and analysts are mixed on their opinions on Wadley. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. rates Wadley as the sixth-best running back should he enter the draft. Ourlads Scouting Services general manager and national scout Dan Shonka grades Wadley as a fifth-round prospect. Tony Pauline of draftanalyst.com wrote Wadley is seen as a late-round pick.
Shonka said there are 45 running backs with draft-worthy grades, not counting Wadley. Around 20-25 are drafted each year and they average between 217-220 pounds. Wadley (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) is much lighter but has other skills. Shonka said Wadley would be a complementary back at the next level.
“He’s explosive,” Shonka said. “I’ve seen him do some good things. I could see him easily falling to the fifth round. Easily. He might even be a sixth-round guy. That, of course, depends on what he runs at the combine and everything else. If I was him, I would stay at Iowa for another year and get bigger and stronger. I don’t think there will be as many running backs next year as there is this year. It’s just swamped.
“He’d be a third-down back for people.”
Weight always has been an issue for Wadley. After Monday’s Outback Bowl loss, Wadley said he struggles with gaining pounds.
“I’ve been eating a lot,” he said. “I run a lot in practice, it’s a tricky deal, but I’m back to the drawing boards with just eating three to five times a day, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Getting a fair assessment of Wadley’s skill set is important in the final decision-making process, Phelps said. The final day for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Jan. 16.
“I learned yesterday that I only believe the ones that I like,” she said. “I didn’t believe it because I don’t like it. That’s understandable, right?
“Mentally it’s hard with the ins and outs of that.”