Weight issues slowing Wadley's rise on depth chart

Chad Leistikow
Iowa's Akrum Wadley ran for 106 yards on 15 carries in last season's 48-7 win over Northwestern.

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Akrum Wadley is working on his trust issues with Iowa's football coaches. And it has nothing to do with honesty, and little to do with fumbling.

Wadley, an exciting option at running back for the Hawkeyes, is on the journey up to 190 pounds – what has been deemed his ideal playing weight. He's gotten there, many times. The key is staying there.

"It's pretty much my weight right now, working on my weight," said Wadley, who scored the offense's only touchdown in the April 25 spring game. "I go up, I come down. I just try to stay consistent with it. Once I get my weight at a good amount I feel comfortable with, I'll be good."

There;s no doubt Wadley, a 5-foot-11 redshirt sophomore, has skills worth watching. He dazzled off the bench in a 106-yard performance last season vs. Northwestern, then was given the first two Hawkeye rushing attempts in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl.

So it's not as if he's not gotten a chance.

But eating the wrong things have hampered Wadley's ability to reach a steady 190. Empty calories burn off quickly during rigorous practices, and so do the pounds.

"The whole thing with Akrum, it's not always fundamentals," running backs coach Chris White said. "It's the strength part of it, too. He hasn't really figured out how to be consistent with his weight. It's a big issue. Next practice, he's down seven pounds. He needs to be consistent in his weight. If he can get around 190 pounds, those fumbling issues, you won't see them, because he'll be strong enough to hold the ball, strong enough to run through a tackle."

Wadley fumbled once each in back-to-back games against Northwestern and Minnesota last season, then fell back to the bench until rushing three times for one yard in the bowl game. At Saturday's media day, he said proudly after three practices in fall camp: "Three days, no fumbles."

He's not listed on the depth chart, but he and converted wide receiver Derrick Mitchell Jr. (who at 6-1 says he's up to 216 pounds but listed at 212) are in Iowa's group of top four backs.

"Accountability and trust. They're working towards that," running backs coach Chris White said of Wadley and Mitchell. "I wouldn't say we absolutely trust them to go in and do the right thing right now, but that's what we're here for right now (in fall camp) and see if they can get to that point."

Being the No. 1 guy, naturally, is Wadley's goal. He says he's "right behind" listed No. 1 LeShun Daniels Jr., with Jordan Canzeri No. 2. Wadley could get some looks in the kick-return game, too.

Wadley said the competition has been hot with Daniels.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't behind him," Wadley said, "breathing down his back."