Akrum Wadley ended his flirtation with the possibility of an early departure for the NFL on Thursday, announcing he will remain at Iowa for his senior season.
Three days after listing his chances of remaining a Hawkeye at “50-50’’ following Iowa’s season-ending loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl, the running back said he has decided to continue his college career and ended thoughts of declaring himself eligible for this year’s NFL Draft.
“It was the right decision for me and my family,’’ Wadley said in a statement. “I met with my parents and we laid out the pros and cons and came to the decision that it would be best for me to stay at Iowa for my senior year.’’
Wadley listed three primary reasons which led him to that conclusion.
“To earn my degree, to have another year to prepare physically and to not end my collegiate career on a bad note, we have some unfinished business,’’ Wadley said.
Facing a Jan. 16 deadline to reach a decision, Wadley said coach Kirk Ferentz was supportive of his desire to research the options following a breakthrough junior season with the Hawkeyes.
“We had good conversations and he let me know that he would be there either way, he would have my back,’’ said Wadley, who also thanked his teammates for their support.
Wadley finished the season leading Iowa with 1,081 rushing yards on 168 attempts and 10 shared the team lead with teammate LeShun Daniels with 10 rushing touchdowns. He also finished second on the team with 36 receptions covering 315 yards including three touchdown catches.
Ferentz welcomed Wadley’s decision, calling it “positive news,’’ and referencing the progress Wadley made throughout his career.
“Akrum has displayed growth and maturity during his career, and had an outstanding season in 2016,’’ Ferentz said. “We look forward to Akrum being a key member of our team in 2017.’’
The Iowa coach has said the 5-foot-11, 191-pound New Jersey native needs to gain and maintain additional weight before he is ready to compete at the next level.
That has been an ongoing issue for Wadley, who has gained 21 pounds since his arrival at Iowa.
He topped 100 rushing yards in six of the Hawkeyes’ 13 games during his junior season, including a team-leading 115-yard performance in Monday’s 30-3 loss to the Gators in Tampa, Florida.
Wadley will enter his senior season with 1,763 career rushing yards, 18th on Iowa’s all-time list, and his 120 career points ranks 20th on the Hawkeyes’ career list.