APTOPIX Outback Bowl Football

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley eludes Florida linebacker Vosean Joseph on a run during the first half of the Outback Bowl in Tampa earlier this year. Wadley welcomes the added competition of graduate transfer James Butler to the backfield.


IOWA CITY – Akrum Wadley welcomes the addition of graduate transfer James Butler to the running back competition at Iowa this fall.

“The more the merrier," Wadley said Tuesday, believing that the two-time 1,000-yard rusher who has announced plans last week to join the Hawkeye program for his senior season will only help strengthen Iowa’s offensive attack.

“It’s like coach (Kirk) Ferentz says, you can never have enough good players and he sounds like he will be able to come in here and help our team.’’

Wadley found out that there was a possibility of a graduate transfer joining the program a couple of days before Butler announced on social media on July 4 that he planned to leave Nevada for the chance to spend his senior season competing closer to his mother who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Butler is scheduled to arrive in Iowa City next week and Wadley said he has spent some time researching his new teammate.

“I’ve seen a few clips and he’s a good back, elusive,’’ Wadley said. “He’s going to be a good fit for what we like to do. He reminds me a lot of LeShun (Daniels) and hopefully we can get something going like we had going last season.’’

Wadley and Daniels both topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark last season for the Hawkeyes and the senior who has maintained added weight this summer, weighing in Tuesday at 192 pounds, doesn’t mind sharing the workload.

He saw his first work at Iowa as part of a backfield that included Jordan Canzeri, Mark Weisman and Daniels and split carries evenly a year ago with Daniels.

“We made it work with four guys. We made it work with two,’’ Wadley said. “I’m ready to carry the ball as many times as they need me – 25, 30, whatever – but I’m ready to rotate with other guys, too. Whatever it takes to win, that’s what matters.’’

Wadley said sophomore Toks Akinribade and redshirt freshman Toren Young continue to progress, too.

“Their job is to keep working hard and they are two good young players,’’ Wadley said. “They’ll get their carries. The one thing I know about the coaches here is that you are good enough, you will get a chance to be in the mix.’’

Butler was an honorable mention all-Mountain West Conference selection the past two seasons at Nevada and leaves the Wolf Pack program in eighth on the school’s career rushing list with more than 3,000 yards on his resume.

He also caught 37 passes for 381 yards a year ago, one more reception than Wadley recorded during his junior season at Iowa.

“He looks like he can help us in that part of the game, too, and I think the coaches will look for some ways to put us both to work there,’’ Wadley said. “It will be another good option for us.’’

With or without the addition of Butler, Wadley’s emphasis during his summer work remains unchanged.

He continues to concentrate on strength and weight gains and is seeing results.

He has lost no quickness despite adding eight pounds to his playing weight from a year ago and Wadley is working to reach 195 pounds by the time Iowa opens its season Sept. 2 against Wyoming.

“It’s going well,’’ Wadley said. “I’ve been able to keep on some weight and I’m getting in the work I need to get in now to be ready to go this fall. I’m working on my game and I want my senior year to be my best. Coach always talks about how important it is for our seniors to play like seniors. That’s what I’m planning to do.’’

He even welcomes a little competition once Butler joins the mix in fall camp.

“That’s good for all of us,’’ Wadley said. “I don’t see any downside to it. I think it’s going to make our team better and it’s going to make me better.’’