Incoming Iowa football freshman running back Markel Smith will not be attending Iowa this fall as planned due to failing to qualify academically.
Smith was one of Iowa’s highest rated prospects in the class of 2014 with some high three star and low four star ratings. He rushed for more than 7,000 yards during his career at St. John Vianney High School in St. Louis.
Smith will now attend a prep school in Connecticut this fall and hopes fulfill the academic requirements so he can enroll at Iowa in January. Smith will be playing football at Milford Academy, their head coach Bill Chaplik said on Wednesday.
Chaplik did say that Smith does intend on honoring his commitment to Iowa and enroll at Iowa in January. Smith isn’t the only running back to go to Milford Academy as two other Hawkeye running backs have taken this route. Shonn Greene and Fred Russell also went to Milford Academy to fix their academic standing.
This path did not stop the running backs from producing once they got to Iowa as they are responsible for three of the top ten seasons for a Hawkeye running back. Russell owns the fifth and the eighth best seasons. Greene has the single season record where he ran for more than 100 yards in every single game of the season.
More recently another highly touted running back who failed to qualify academically did not return to Iowa after previously committing there. After attending an academy, Rodney Coe added on a lot of weight and ended up playing defensive line for Iowa State. Here is to hoping that Smith will follow the Greene and Russell path and not end up like Coe.
As for Iowa, this doesn’t really affect them too much right now. Iowa has incredible depth right now (knock on wood) and right now a true freshman doesn’t look like he would even sniff playing time this year barring injuries (again, knock on wood.) They have 3 players with more than 700 carries in between them so this year isn’t the year a true freshman would contribute.
For the future Iowa looks set. Iowa has two freshmen who are coming out of their redshirt season who can play if needed. Also true sophomore LeShun Daniels is ready to build on his already impressive true freshman season where he wowed some people with his power. He is ready for more carries and will be pushing the people in front of him both for more playing time.
While it would be nice to welcome back Smith because he is obviously talented as he was arguably the highest rated recruit out of all of Iowa’s running backs, it doesn’t seem like Iowa desperately needs him. Although this is Iowa we are talking about so by August all the running backs may wake up with torn ACL’s and we will be left with no one to carry the football. But for now Iowa is good and hopes to welcome back Smith in January.