The departure of Tyler Goodson in the Hawkeye backfield leaves the door open to a talented young group of running backs. The most veteran players in the position group are both redshirt sophomores. Iowa’s next man in at running back will be a combination of Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams. The two aren’t actually related in any way, but they will both make a significant step up from “young-guys” to “leaders” this season.
The young running back saw action in every game last season. At first, his workload started small, getting just a few looks per game in the first half of the season. In week 10 at Northwestern, Williams recorded a career-high in carries and rush yards with 11 and 40, respectively. He set a new career-high with 56 rush yards against Illinois and tied it in the Big Ten Championship game where he was the team’s leading rusher. Despite the blowout loss in Indianapolis, Williams was able to make himself comfortable in the backfield.
The following month, Goodson opted out of the bowl game. This gave way to Williams being thrust into the starting running back position. The redshirt freshman went from seeing limited action per game to starter in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day. Williams had a career day, rushing for 98 yards and averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Against an SEC defensive front, Williams looked ready to take over as the Hawkeyes’ new back.
Leshon Williams was handed the ball in just three games last season. Playing behind Goodson, Ivory Kelly-Martin, and Gavin Williams, made it difficult for the redshirt sophomore to get touches. However, the Citrus Bowl opened up an opportunity for him to take the stage. Against Kentucky, Williams recorded 42 yards on 10 carries, a career-best. His performance turned heads and opened the door for a lot of potential in the Hawkeye backfield.
Iowa’s Next Man In: Running Backs
Gavin Williams is the starter on the Spring depth chart with Leshon right behind him. The two both showed they are ready for the leadership role last January. Their tandem skill sets will be a great combination of quickness and physicality in the running game. Although young, the Hawkeye running back room is talented. Behind them, there are two true freshmen who came in as highly-touted, four-star guys in Jaziun Patterson and Kaleb Johnson. This group is well-prepared for the future in Iowa City. The future starts in September.