The Iowa Hawkeyes received some very good news on Tuesday night when Kirkwood, MO running back Markel Smith announced to the world that he was heading to Iowa.
Though his tweets are protected, this one was retweeted:
“@WizKELifa23 I committed to Iowa”
He also said this to Rob Howe
You can check out his junior highlight reel at this link, but it will not include his 541-yard performance in one game during his senior year, just a few weeks back. The 541-yards in one game is a new state of Missouri single game record.
He rushed for 2,520 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior and is averaging well north of 200 yards per game this year. He committed to Missouri one year ago and then decommitted back in May. The home state Tigers were still in the mix but he wanted to go to Iowa. The quote he gave Rob Howe above is pretty powerful and the Iowa coaching staff should be praised to pull this off in a year where Missouri is in the Top 10 and Iowa is fighting to become bowl eligible.
The comparisons to Shonn Greene will be inescapable as he wears #23 and is a big, physical back. His body style looks like Greene but he is a long strider in the open field and doesn’t look to have that top end gear that Greene had coming out of high school; Greene was a 4×100 runner and near 11 seconds flat in the 100 meters.
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While we haven’t seen a great deal of LeShun Daniels, he seems cut out of a similar mold from a size and ‘style of play’ standpoint. Again, I am not going to the mat with these comparisons, as they are unfair and we don’t know a great deal about Daniels other than he is a powerful back who can push a pile. He is not a patient runner right now, something Iowa’s zone scheme demands, but he’s young and it takes some time.
As I recently wrote, I believe Daniels is the only ‘true’ Big Ten caliber running back Iowa has on its roster. Mark Weisman is challenged laterally on the outside zones, Damon Bullock seems hit and miss and Jordan Canzeri isn’t someone who can handle 20 carries per game. Daniels looks like he has the best overall package, but he has a lot to prove.
Even though Iowa has ‘depth’ at running back, there are reps to be had next year.