One of the most intriguing talents on the Iowa football roster has been suspended from the team, and suddenly the 2015 Hawkeyes' once-robust running-back depth has gotten thin.
Redshirt sophomore Derrick Mitchell Jr. was suspended for a violation of the University of Iowa's student life code of conduct, according to a statement from football coach Kirk Ferentz released Monday night.
"This is not a legal issue," Ferentz said. "Derrick is working through the issues at hand in regards to being in good standing as a University of Iowa student. We will follow the established university protocol as we move forward."
There are 27 areas of prohibited acts outlined in the 2015-16 code of conduct. What part Mitchell violated wasn't specified, nor was any time frame given for his possible return to the football team.
Mitchell, a 6-foot-1, 212-pound native of St. Louis, Mo., turned heads after he converted from wide receiver to running back entering spring practice. He had an excellent spring game and rocketed up the ranks. Going into the season Ferentz called him the clear No. 3 behind starter LeShun Daniels Jr. and backup Jordan Canzeri.
Impersonating Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon was Derrick Mitchell's first step toward becoming Iowa's spring-game sensation. What he said in his first interview with HawkCentral.com. Chad Leistikow | Hawkcentral.com
But Mitchell didn't see a snap in Iowa's first two games. He was withheld from Iowa's opener against Illinois State with an unspecified injury, and even though he was expected to be available for Saturday's Iowa State game, he wasn't in uniform. Against Iowa State, Daniels went down with what Ferentz described as a "fairly significant" (right ankle) injury, and his status for Saturday's 7:12 p.m. game against Pittsburgh is touch and go.
That leaves Canzeri as the only healthy and trusted running back in the rotation. Akrum Wadley, a redshirt sophomore, has been marred with fumbling problems despite raw talent that saw him post Iowa's first 100-yard rushing game of the 2014 season against Northwestern.
Wadley hasn't played since fumbling on his third carry against Illinois State, but with Daniels' injury and Mitchell's suspension, he could go into the Pitt game as the No. 2 running back.
Ferentz said he's "not a big doghouse guy" when asked if and when Wadley would get another chance.
"We don't cut guys, ship them out and bring new guys in. This is college football," Ferentz said on Sept. 9. "We're trying to develop our guys as best we can. He wasn't ready to secure the ball (against Illinois State) unfortunately, but hopefully next time out he'll do a better job. Somewhere in there, there's a good player. We've just got to get it out of him and get him really concentrating the way he really needs to to protect the football."
Redshirt freshman Marcel Joly and true freshman Eric Graham are the only other scholarship running backs on the Iowa roster. C.J. Hilliard left the team last month.