IOWA CITY — Running back? Fullback?
It doesn’t matter to Brad Rogers. Just put him in a position to help the Iowa football team.
“I don’t have a preference. I’m good to go with either one,” Rogers said Monday at the Hawkeyes’ media day. “I came in here as a running back. I played fullback the last couple of years. I feel good at either spot, just tell me where to line up.”
With a shortage of depth at running back, the junior from Toledo, Ohio, is listed at the top of the depth chart at fullback and shares the top spot at running back with Damon Bullock.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Rogers will get reps at both positions during the opening weeks of fall camp.
“Right now, we don’t know how many one-back sets we will be in, so that is part of our thought process. The other part is that given our circumstances right now, we need to look at everybody,” Ferentz said.
“Basically, anybody that’s in the backfield position, maybe outside of (converted tight end) Jonathan Gimm right now, is going to get a look at carrying the football just to see if they can help us out in some way.”
With Bullock, a sophomore who carried 10 times last season, and true freshmen Barkley Hill and Greg Garmon the other running backs in the mix, Rogers provides a known commodity in a sea of uncertainty.
Rogers saw action at running back and fullback as a redshirt freshman in 2010 before being sidelined for Iowa’s Insight Bowl win over Missouri because of a heart condition. He returned to the field for the final nine games a year ago and started the last seven at fullback.
In his first two seasons, he has carried the ball 14 times, including three a year ago. He averaged 6.8 yards on 11 carries during his freshman season.
“We’ll keep an open mind, give everybody an opportunity,” Ferentz said. “One thing about Brad, he’s been in the program. We certainly have a great trust level with him, and I think that he is a fairly versatile guy.”
The same can be said for Bullock.
In addition to competing at running back last fall, he spent time working as a slot receiver. Like Rogers, he believes the experience can benefit him this fall.
“I feel like I am ready to do more things because I worked out at both spots and I feel like my time at receiver helps me understand the entire offense more,” Bullock said. “I’m ready wherever they need me.”
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Rogers shares that opinion.
“I know what the expectations are. The coaches are looking for someone who will be reliable, who doesn’t put the ball on the ground, and I feel like I can offer that,” he said. “We have good backs here, and I could see them using us all in different ways.”
With the lack of a veteran experienced back in the group, first-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis believes Iowa might open the season with a running back-by-committee approach.
“That wouldn’t surprise me. It will give us a chance to find out things about the backs we have that we might not be able to know until they are in a game situation,” Davis said. “Historically, this program has been able to put young backs on the field who can be successful, and (assistant coach) Lester Erb does a great job of getting young guys ready to go full out.”
After missing the start of fall camp a year ago while awaiting medical clearance, Rogers looks forward to being part of that equation.
“It feels good to be out here running around and working hard,” Rogers said. “I’m looking forward to a full season again, and I like the competition. It is forcing us all to get better and as a team, that’s what we need to get out of this camp.”
Hawkeyes host Kids Day: Iowa will host its annual Kids at Kinnick Day at noon Saturday, a two-hour practice that is open to the public free of charge and will be followed by a 30-minute autograph session.
Gates will open at 11 a.m., and entry will be through Gates A, B and E on the stadium’s south and west sides. Regular game-day search procedures will be in place.