A Jewel Shines

March 25, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following first appears in the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, a free e-newsletter delivered daily to fans of the Hawkeyes. To learn more about the Hawkeyes’ OSR, click HERE.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Fans of the Iowa football team know there’s a jewel of a running back that didn’t get on the playing field last year when the Hawkeyes made their march to the program’s second Bowl Championship Series appearance.

Those fans also learned – definitively – Wednesday that Jewel Hampton was shining in his rehabilitation effort that followed season-ending surgery at the tail end of fall drills last August.

“Jewel showed us an awful lot two years ago. I think he’s proven that he can compete very well at this level,” Ferentz said during his first visit with the media specific to the 2010 Iowa Hawkeyes.

Ferentz then proceeded to demonstrate the difference between what catches the coaches’ attention versus what captures the fancy of fans.

“The best thing about it was that he really improved during the course of the season. He was a much better player in the second half of the year than the first,” Iowa’s veteran head coach offered.

The numbers support Ferentz’s assertion, too. In fact, they support it with a bang: In Game 7 of 2008 – Iowa’s victory at Indiana – Hampton was nothing short of spectacular in his return visit to his home state. The product of Indianapolis’ Warren Central High School ran for 114 yards and scored three times – both career highs.

He closed his rookie season with 30 yards against Penn State (on three carries), 50 at Minnesota (on 10 touches) and 54 in the Outback Bowl victory over South Carolina (on 12 rushes). The 5-9, 210-pounder also found paydirt in Iowa’s victories over Purdue and the Gophers.

Hampton also established himself as a formidable member of the kickoff return squad in the second half of 2008 with 15 opportunities that included returns of 52, 31, and 27 yards.

“Jewel showed us an awful lot two years ago. I think he’s proven that he can compete very well at this level.”
Kirk Ferentz

“He’s going to be right in the think of it,” Ferentz said of the guy who a year ago appeared to be the heir apparent to Shonn Greene’s position as Iowa’s No. 1 running back.

“Our first goal is to get more than two guys to the game,” he added with a wry grin. “We have had a hard time doing that, unfortunately. It’s a real luxury when we have three backs, so if we can get to that point, that would be great.”

It’s March and that also means – in the Iowa camp – all positions are “open.”

“The only thing I know is competition is great at any position and the running back position is one where we will have good, healthy competition if things pan out. Hopefully, it’s going to be a good situation for us. We’ll see.”