Instant star Akrum Wadley trying to avoid getting 'too comfortable'
IOWA CITY, Ia. – It's Akrum Wadley's turn.
He may have begun this football season buried on the Iowa depth chart, but after a breakout effort Saturday, the freshman running back was ready for Tuesday's media gauntlet.
"It can get snatched away real fast," Wadley said of his sudden popularity. "I'm not trying to get too comfortable.
"I just want to produce for my team, be a team player."
As the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Wadley tried to maintain an even keel, everyone around him was getting up to speed.
Among the tidbits reporters discovered: Wadley was nicknamed "Spin Master" by Hawkeye running backs coach Chris White.
"Yeah, he knows that's my favorite move," Wadley explained. "It's something I've always done, back in high school.
"We've been doing drills in practice since camp, working on the spin."
Wadley also darted and dashed past Northwestern defenders last weekend, rushing for 106 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
That performance helped elevate him to No. 2 in Iowa's tailback rotation, behind senior Mark Weisman.
Where was Wadley listed when the season started?
"I don't even think it goes that deep," he said with a grin. "I was pretty much No. 5 or No. 6. I don't know. I didn't let that get in the way, because we had some great backs. We still do.
"I just had to wait patiently. I had to wait my turn."
White granted his pupil some freedom when it came to twirling out of tackles, but there is one hard and fast rule.
"You can spin, you can cut, you can do all that," Wadley repeated, "as long as you keep the ball high and tight."
Wadley quickly had a chance to learn that lesson on the field, as a third-quarter fumble was his lone hiccup against the Wildcats.
A couple other items of note:
-- Wadley was told growing up the name Akrum means "noble."
His mother, Sheronda, was the first family member to congratulate Wadley on his success Saturday.
"She was just blowing up my phone, leaving voicemails and everything," Wadley said. "There was a video they took of her when I scored my touchdown. She was just jumping up and down, so proud."
-- Despite growing up in Newark, N.J., Wadley is a Minnesota Vikings fan.
"I've never been to Minnesota before," Wadley said. "I always wanted to go to a Minnesota Vikings home game to watch Adrian Peterson.
"When I was little, I used to watch Randy Moss, too. He was one of my favorites."
Wadley will make his first trip to the Land of 10,000 Lakes when the Hawkeyes play Minnesota at 11 a.m. this Saturday.
-- Iowa and Temple were the only major college programs to give Wadley much of a look.
"It is what it is," he said. "I thought, 'Wherever I go, I'm going to go hard. Practice hard and make the best of the opportunity I've got.'"
-- He wears the No. 25 because of Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.
"I had No. 31 last year," Wadley said, "just wasn't cutting it."
Hardly anyone noticed the number switch, but every move from here on out will be scrutinized.
"I got my feet wet and just want to keep it up," Wadley said. "What happened Saturday is in the past. We just continue to keep grinding."