It never has been disclosed what sort of medical procedure Iowa football player Toks Akinribade underwent back in December, but it obviously was serious.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said he doesn’t think the sophomore running back will be ready to go when fall practice begins, which could leave the Hawkeyes scrambling for other options at that position.
"I’m not real optimistic," Ferentz said when asked about Akinribade during Iowa’s caravan event Thursday night at the Waterfront Convention Center. "There’ just too many questions right now. We’re kind of coming down the home stretch. Like any medical situation, you’re always going to err on the side of being conservative, I think."
Akinribade’s absence would leave the Hawkeyes very thin at a position where depth is a necessity.
The top two backs from last fall’s depth chart — Akrum Wadley and James Butler — have moved on to NFL camps. Ferentz said he is very satisfied with sophomores Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin as the top two backs for next season, but there’s not much behind them.
Akinribade, who carried 16 times for 33 yards as a true freshman in 2016 before redshirting last fall, had been counted on to be the third option.
"With running backs, you never feel comfortable with just two guys," Ferentz said. "You always want to have at least three guys who can get in there and feel confident with them playing."
Redshirt freshmen Kyshaun Bryan and Cam Harrell, a converted defensive back, played running back during the spring. There is one back in the incoming recruiting class — Henry Geil, of Green Bay, Wisconsin — and incoming receiver Samson Evans, of Crystal Lake, Illinois, also has played in the backfield.
Ferentz admitted he may consider taking a graduate transfer at the position, just as he did last spring when Butler arrived from Nevada.
"We’re open to any possibilities so we’ll just keep sorting through it," he said. "We feel really good about the top two guys that are 1 and 2 on the roster, but that being said, we’re thin there. With Toks’ situation, which was unforeseen and unexpected, we may just keep looking around here."
He admitted that running back is a position where a new player can make an immediate impact and he said there is no shortage of available transfers these days.
"We’ll keep an ear to the ground, but nothing firm at this point," he said.