IOWA CITY - If you were planning to head over to Iowa City on Saturday to see how Iowa's running backs are shaping up for next season, forget it.
The backs fans will see in the Hawkeyes' final spring practice and scrimmage won't be the ones you're likely to see in the fall.
Adam Robinson, who set the Iowa freshman rushing record last fall, has been sitting out the spring after undergoing offseason surgery.
Jewel Hampton, who was so promising as an understudy to Shonn Greene in 2008, is participating in drills but is not being exposed to any contact as a precautionary measure. Brandon Wegher, who set the freshman record for touchdowns last fall, was taking part in full drills before spraining his shoulder. He will sit Saturday.
Even Paki O'Meara, a senior-to-be who started the first game last season, is hobbled by a sprained knee and will be a spectator.
"We'd like to think we have a little depth and quite a few guys with playing experience back there," Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe said Tuesday. "But they're all nursing different things at this stage.
"If all those guys show up to camp in the fall healthy, it will be a great problem for us to have to figure out what to do with all of them ... Right now we're just trying to figure out how we're going to scrimmage on Saturday."
In the scrimmage Saturday, fans will see Brad Rogers and Jason White. Rogers, a redshirt freshman who weighed nearly 250 pounds when he arrived last fall but now is listed at 215, will be the starting running back. White, a former Davenport North player who was moved to defense at one point, is No. 2.
O'Keefe and head coach Kirk Ferentz are optimistic that they'll have a full stable of backs ready to go in the fall. They said Hampton, who underwent knee surgery in August, has looked like his old self in spring drills.
"He's doing everything well right now," Ferentz said Tuesday on a Big Ten coaches teleconference. "We're just not letting him have any contact."
O'Keefe noted that Hampton juked a defender out of the way on a short pass in a recent workout, when he ran downfield and juked another player out of his path.
"Guys who come off injuries like that can hold back sometimes and be tentative," O'Keefe said. "Jewel has never been tentative in anything."
- Running backs Jewel Hampton, Adam Robinson, Brandon Wegher and Paki O'Meara won't be the only players held out of Saturday's controlled scrimmage.
Safety Lance Tillison has a broken hand and offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan is still recovering from sports hernia surgery. Starting safeties Brett Greenwood and Tyler Sash have not done anything this spring after undergoing off-season surgery.
- Greenwood, a former Pleasant Valley star, is not listed on the two-deeps for Saturday but there are five other Quad-City products there. Julian Vandervelde (Davenport Central) is the starting left guard, Colin Sandeman (Bettendorf) is listed as a co-starter with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos at split end, Kyle Steinbrecher (Assumption) is the backup strong safety, Ross Petersen (Durant) is the No. 2 outside linebacker and Jason White (Davenport North) is the backup running back.
- One player who has caught the attention of the Iowa coaches this spring is redshirt freshman wide receiver Jordan Cotton, the son of former Davenport Central and Iowa player Marshall Cotton.
"Jordan Cotton really has started to emerge as someone who can make plays," offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe said. "He has been out-hustling people for balls. He has a few things to learn yet, but he loves to go catch the ball and he's always going full speed."
- One of the few significant changes in the depth chart since the start of spring drills is the emergence of senior Jeff Tarpinian as the No. 1 middle linebacker. Tarpinian originally was No. 2 at weakside linebacker with Troy Johnson as the starter in the middle, but the two have switched places.
"I see Tarp as a major factor in the whole picture," defensive coordinator Norm Parker said. "He could be in the middle, he could be on the outside, but I see him as a major factor. He's played very well the past 10 days."
- Junior Jordan Bernstine, who suffered a broken ankle in August, was expected to step in as the replacement for Amari Spievey at right cornerback. However, he has had an erratic spring and currently is listed behind sophomore Micah Hyde, who defensive coordinator Norm Parker said has looked very solid.
"There is a lot of hope for (Bernstine) some days but there are other days where you wonder if that ankle is 100 percent," Parker said.