IOWA CITY — It appears sophomore running back Brandon Wegher will not play for Iowa this season.
The former Sioux City Heelan star has been missing from practice for three weeks for personal reasons, and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that the team is moving forward. Ferentz also said he has not talked to Wegher in a week.
“It's pretty obvious from him not being here he has no intentions of playing right now,” Ferentz said Tuesday at his press conference.
Wegher was the Hawkeyes' second-leading rusher last season with 641 yards, trailing Adam Robinson's 834 yards.
Robinson, a 5-foot-9, 205-pound sophomore from Des Moines, will start at running back when the No. 9 Hawkeyes open the season Saturday against Eastern Illinois, which is ranked No. 16 in the Football Championship Subdivision.
After Robinson, it's senior Paki O'Meara. After O'Meara, at least Saturday, it's sophomore walk-on Jason White.
Another veteran running back, redshirt sophomore Jewel Hampton, is suspended for the opener after a summer public intoxication arrest. Hampton suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and missed '09. The knee doesn't appear to be an issue.
“Most guys come back from them (ACL surgeries) stronger,” Ferentz said. “If he's not, you can fool me. He looks older and stronger than he did in 2008, which you would expect. He's been training hard and looks good.”
If Wegher, who set a freshman school record with eight rushing touchdowns last season, is redshirted, he still would have three seasons of eligibility.
Ferentz said he's “hopeful” Wegher is going to class on a routine basis. “As far as I know, he is,” he said.
“I hope he goes to class and has a great year academically,” Ferentz said. “He can decide during that time if he wants to play football or not. I'm not sitting by the phone waiting for a decision.
“I think right now it's all in his hands. The only critical factor here is don't do something that's going to deter your future, like take absence from class.”