Hawkeyes Land Four Star Back

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.

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.

  • Larry Flint

    Ugh … nice remark on Weisman. Never mind the fact that Weisman ran for over 100 yards last year against Michigan State … and the outside zone play was an important part of his success.

    Potentially could some of the drop in Weisman’s productivity also be due to the fact that he has been less than 100% (not that he’d ever use injuries as any sort of excuse)? How about the FACT that the windy fall weather, combined with young/inconsistent play in the passing game , combined with facing relatively ELITE run Ds has made sledding that much tougher for the Hawks.

    Nah … it must just mean that Weisman is a fraud. Good grief Charlie Brown!

    homerHAWKeye777 (btw, Jon, get back to me so that I can update my e-mail address so I can post again on the boards under my original handle … I refuse to rejoin the board under a different username)

    • HNStaff

      Nobody said Weisman was a fraud except you. So don’t put that word in my ‘mouth’. I am not gonna sit here and go game by game and run the kid down. He is a tough player, I am glad he is on Iowa’s team but he’s not a Big Ten every down back, or at least not if Iowa is going to run the outside zone as much with him in the game. There is a role for him on the Iowa team, but it ain’t that.

      • Larry Flint

        People said similar things about Adam Robinson … and yet he proved that he was more than capable of being an every down Big 10 back for Iowa. Too bad he made such poor decisions that eventually derailed his Hawkeye career.

        When healthy, Weisman has shown that he actually has pretty darn nice vision … and he also has patience when running our outside zone. The bigger knock on him when executing our outside zone plays is that he almost always attempts to just follow the blockers and get to the outside. In so doing, he misses cutback opportunities when they arise.

        Is Weisman a NFL level talent at RB? No. Is he the sort of talent who could still be very successful on the collegiate level … sure.


        • HNStaff

          I like Weisman. Just not on outside zone plays. When he has hit those plays, its been well to the outside and because the TE and or LT have paved the way and shut the gate. He’s not a ‘one cut and gone’ back. He doesn’t move all that well laterally. It’s not an indictment, as he’s more of a fullback. He’d be a better fit at Michigan State or where teams go more hat on hat blocking and powerO.

          • Foreverhawk

            I agree with Jon’s take on Weisman. He has been a tough runner and a great surprise for Iowa. But not somebody that you would go out and recruit to be your #1 guy at RB. As far as Markel Smith is concerned, it looked like he had plenty of speed. I think the long stride actually makes him look like he is moving slower than he actually is. I don’t think you could go for well over 2,000 back to back in the St. Louis area without any kind of speed. Seems like a very good commit!

      • Ryan

        I am sorry but if anyone else would like to tell me that Mark Weisman is the best runner for the zone blocking on the team then you have not watched any gametime this year. Do I love his style? Yes. His heart? Yes. Is he a north/south runner? Yes. Now kudos to the staff for getting this kid and hopefully Saban will jump ship to Texas (probably not) and Ross will switch to Iowa as well.

    • jeffbuck

      Unfair reaction to Jon’s comments. Take a pill.

      • Larry Flint

        If Jon’s view is foolish and unsupported … it’s worthy of getting highlighted. It should be painful to be stupid.

        Unfortunately, Jon has increasingly written declarative, reactionary crap in his articles these days. Even Jon’s patience with the Ferentz/Davis regime seems to be dwindling. He needs to divorce himself from emotion and actually break things down more objectively.

        This season, as we’ve gotten deeper into the Big 10 slate, it’s almost as though Jon has forgotten that the Iowa QB is just a first year starter with no prior experience AND whose most talented supporting cast at WR are themselves young/inexperienced guys. Just a apply simple logic and you quickly realize that windy-conditions + inexperienced QB + talented Big 10 Ds equates to tough days for Iowa’s developing offense. Again, logic dictates that young guys will be able to excel at executing the weekly game plan … however, departures from that script will be invariably lead to spottier execution until the guys have run the O together for a longer period of time. There’s a reason why Ferentz tends to err on the side of experience … because there truly is no substitute for it.


        • HNStaff

          I’ve not been critical of Rudock. He’s impressed the heck out of me. And I’ve written and repeated all along that this would be the most challenged receiving corps of the Ferentz era.

          If you wanna make a run at me, at least get the facts straight.

          • Larry Flint

            Is that what you got from the above post? Really?

            I made no claim that you had been railing on Rudock. However, you have been critical of the Iowa O without thoughtfully breaking into the details. For example …

            “Greg Davis is nearly two years into his stint as Iowa’s offensive coordinator and while this year started out promising, it’s limping to the finish line. The food has been spread all over the plate but it’s hard to fool people when you can’t score. Is it all on the coaches? No, as we’ve seen quite a bit of ‘lack of execution’ out there. But after a while, the evidence starts to make that irrelevant…when the same things keep happening over and over and over, the macro overtakes the micro.” – HNStaff
            You contriving an argument via innuendo without addressing what factors might be contributing to the “execution issues.” Sometimes, if you do so, you find out that there is no good reason for the execution issues. For example, on the basis of available evidence last year, there were few good reasons why Iowa’s ILBs had such trouble covering RBs and TEs. Mind you, the above assertion takes in account Hitchens being a first-year starter and injuries to Morris. So if there were no good player-related reasons for the break-downs … then what was the “cause?” Easy … Coach Woods. He was a new teacher and he has more of a specialty at OLB anyhow. Not shockingly, Kirksey’s play was arguably the cleanest that season. While I think that Coach Woods will develop into a great coach – it’s a process and rarely happens overnight. Now, fast forward to the ’13 season, and you’ll be hard pressed to find near as many things to pick on concerning LB play. Kudos to Ferentz for pulling in Coach Reid … Reid is already making a tangible difference to the Hawk D.
            Now, apply the same sort of analysis to the 2013 Iowa O. Really, do it! The reasons for the difficulties that Iowa has been having are really easy to understand. I find it amusing that fans still are scratching their heads about trite details like 3-TE sets … however, the same fans simply aren’t accounting for the reasons why Iowa used it in the first place AND why it worked. Iowa used it because of match-ups. If you put on your “thinking cap” you’ll quickly notice that one personnel grouping that creates a mismatch against one team – it won’t necessarily do the same against another team. Match-ups simply do not work that way. Also, part of the reason why it worked was because the opposition had no prior film on it. Furthermore, the Ohio State D still had plenty of youth, and youth has a tendency to not be able to react as quickly or effectively to things that are unfamiliar to them.

          • Dan Brust

            Wow somebody who knows and understands what is really going on,on and off the field and doesn’t knee jerk that the coaches suck but has a real understanding and analysis for the game. My hat is off to you

  • louie

    how can Daniels prove anything when he sits on the bench.he should get 10-15 carries a game the rest of way,but won’t.the only way to prove anything is in a game.

    • DaveJohnson23

      he needs to work on a little ball security b4 he gets what you expect him to get. he’s fortunate his two fumbles have been on the sideline.

      • Mark Keller

        Absolutely agree DJ23. Daniels has a ton of upside. Ball security is his #1 problem. He’ll get there and will get a much bigger opportunity next season.

    • Ryan


  • Todd Priske

    Nice!! good land for the Hawkeyes, a huge get, have you seen him on U-Tube, amazing

  • Facts

    The recruiting Iowa needs to do is for a coaching staff. Until that happens, bring in whatever players you want. It won’t matter. Just look at reality. It bites, but then facts are facts.

    Since before this season started, I’ve repeatedly said Weisman should be moved to FB, Bullock to WR, and Canzeri and Daniels should be the RBs. It’s plain and simple. And I don’t think there’s any law, Jon, that says Iowa couldn’t run Weisman up the gut on quick-hitters instead of those ridiculous stretch plays. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, “It’s the coaching, stupid.” Sorry about the name-calling, but Bill did it.

    Anyway, there are so many examples of poor coaching over the last 3 1/2 years, it would take a book to list them all. Playing people out of position is a big one that exacerbates the often mindless play calling. Then there’s the inconsistency: Three TEs work against OSU, for example, so Iowa doesn’t do that anymore. You bring in speed (Damond Powell) and you mostly ignore it rather than gameplan to get the ball in his hands 10-15 times a game on slants, double moves, timing patterns, fly patterns…

    And then you can get into the lack of trick plays, being fooled on fake punts and onside kicks over and over and over and over and over… Poor clock management, punting from the Wisconsin 35 with a 20 mph wind at your back, calling drop back passes when you have your read-option QB in the game…

    When will it end? The odds are I won’t live forever, and I’d love to see Iowa win a Rose Bowl game before my final gun goes off. I was 10 years old the last time it happened–1959. It’ll never happen under this regime, so Iowa needs to pull the trigger soon. In the meantime, after 40 years of season tickets and traveling all over the country to follow the Hawkeyes, I’ve had it. 4th and 1–run Weisman wide. Great call…

    • Dan Brust

      Glad your giving up your tickets. One less person ahead of me on the re-seating. And what team do you coach?

  • Adam Robinson

    Somebody mentioned Adam Robinson and how great he was before he “started making bad decisions.” Well, any objective observer would have to admit Robinson was a heckuva RB for the Hawkeyes. He had awesome balance and tenacity and was a terrific ball carrier. But the “bad decisions” started with the Iowa coaching staff, not Adam Robinson.

    When Kirk left the young man in the game despite leading MSU 30-0 in the second half, THAT was the beginning of Adam Robinson’s demise. Had Robinson been on the bench where a starter belonged, he never would have suffered the concussion that began the string of events that led to his dismissal from the team. That’s another huge black mark on Ferentz that doesn’t get mentioned much.

    Robinson had no problems going to class or staying out of trouble from the time he arrived in Iowa City until after that concussion. I’d have trouble sleeping at night if I were the one who had left him in that game. But maybe Kirk is OK with it. I’ve never heard him take any responsibility for it or even hint that maybe he was somewhat to blame. Which is his style, and which is another reason many of us are so disappointed and frustrated with his act. Anyway, just thought someone should tell the truth about the Adam Robinson story.

    • Mark Keller

      AR made his own choice to hang with pot smoking friends putting himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not Ferentz and the Iowa coaching staff. AR put himself in poor standing with the coaches and team. Some kids choose to treat their scholarship as an honor, while others choose to take it for granted. AR made his OWN choice. Good Lord. Saying that Ferentz caused AR’s concussion which led to his poor decisions is simply ridiculous.

      • jeffbuck

        I don’t think it’s ridiculous at all. What Ferentz did in leaving AR in that game was careless, simply careless. And if you think a concussion can’t change people’s behavior, I suggest you read up a little on neuropsychology. You’re speaking out of ignorance.

        • WIlliam Vonnegut

          Do you remember what happened days before Robinson got arrested for drug possession? That’s right, DJK got popped for drug possession. Ferentz had no choice but to suspend Robinson after that.

          Also, hate to ruin your narrative here, but even after he got kicked off the team, Adam still wanted to rejoin the football program, and never blamed the coaching staff for his problems. He stayed at Iowa the following semester, and they said they’d give him a shot if his grades improved.

          They didn’t. He transferred to Minnesota-Duluth, got hurt, and then left the school without telling the coaches. Can’t really blame that on one concussion.

        • Dan Brust

          AR is responsible for his own behavior. Nobody else is. To think differently is out of ignorance.

  • Creative Leadership

    “A 2010 major study by IBM found that…a primary concern of CEO’s globally lies in their ability to initiate and manage change. According to the over 1,500 CEOs who participated in the study, ‘Creativity is the most important leadership quality’ (p. 8). This finding is echoed in a recent article by Newsweek … that reinforced the fact that not only is creativity a ‘part of normal brain function,’ but ‘that lack of creativity – not having loads of it – is [a] real risk factor’ (p. 6) when it comes to initiating and managing change, a key 21st century leadership skill.’ — from “Creative Leadership: Welcome to the 21st Century” by Jeffrey D. Zacko-Smith

    That doesn’t sound promising for Iowa football when you consider Mr. Barta and Mr. Ferentz are running things.

    But there will be a coaching search some day, and when that day comes, given the above, maybe the list should be headed by folks like this: Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Larry the Cable Guy, Tina Fey (Condoleezza Rice will help choose the four teams for next year’s playoffs, ya know), Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates–people who have creative minds and a record of success.

    An English major who knows nothing about satellite communications is the CEO of DirecTV, for example. It’s about the ideas and the attitudes and hiring the right people to handle the day-to-day, the Xs and the Os.

    “Creativity is the most important leadership quality” and “lack of creativity – not having loads of it – is [a] real risk factor” — That’s a HUGE indictment of Kirk Ferentz in particular and the Hawkeye Athletic Dept. in general — and a tremendous support for those of us who have long been complaining of exactly this problem.

    Constantly being fooled by trick plays, never running any trick plays of his own, using the same game plan for decades, placing personnel in the wrong situations (positions), refusing to adjust… Kirk has no clue, and this research makes that irrefutable.

  • Fumble!

    Ya, DaveJohnson23, because Weisman never fumbles…oops…I do recall a Weisman fumble on the field of play that killed an Iowa drive and helped Northern Illinois beat the Hawkeyes.

    The only RBs who never fumble are the RBs who never play. Get a grip, man.

    • DaveJohnson23

      please cite the carries/fumbles ratio for your comparison. and then perhaps your get that grip.

  • Say It Ain’t So

    Finally worked up the courage to watch the DVR of the Wisky game. I saw the original in person. Oh my…all those red pom-poms looked even worse on TV than I had feared. When will someone in the Iowa Athletic Dept. find a brain and use it? I’m not holding my breath…

    As for the football part of the experience, Iowa gave that game away. I don’t care what Wisconsin is ranked or what it says on paper or anything else… Iowa had every opportunity to not only win but to do so convincingly. And even with all of Iowa’s offensive futility, it was STILL only 14-9 with about 7 minutes left in the game! ONE touchdown, even then, would have pulled it out. What a waste of a beautiful defensive effort.

    Wisconsin didn’t win that game: Iowa lost it. Plain and simple. Wacky play calling, more dropped passes, missed open receivers, penalties, screwy turnovers… Chalk up another one where Kirk and Co. grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.

Latest News

  1. Alphonso Soko

    May 25 Rob Howe

    Under-Radar Muscatine RB Gearing Up for Summer Showcases>

  2. Kolade Amusan

    May 25 Rob Howe

    MN LB Kolade Amusan Looking forward to Iowa Camp>

  3. Iowa Baseball

    May 24 Sean Neugent

    Clutch Performance Sends Iowa into B1G Baseball Tourney>

  4. Jamal Allen

    May 24 Rob Howe

    Hawkeyes, MI CB Jamal Allen Building Relationship>

  5. B1G Championship Iowa vs Michigan State 2015

    May 22 Jon Miller

    HN Podcast: Best of the B1G Running Backs>