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By CHRIS BREWER
FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — Jordan Canzeri stopped short of saying he’s 100-percent healthy, but he is absolutely ready to play.
And he’s not alone.
The Iowa backfield is back. Canzeri, Daniels, Wadley, Weisman — they were all in the mix Monday at Day 3 of TaxSlayer Bowl prep in Fernandina Beach, Florida, and all four will be in play when Iowa faces Tennessee in Jacksonville on Friday.
“They’ll all be available,” said UI offensive coordinator Greg Davis. “We’ll play those guys and rotate them in by situation. Hopefully somebody will get a hot hand.”
Canzeri’s hand wasn’t alarmingly hot when Iowa last took the field on Nov. 28, but it was busy, and has recently shown signs of warming up.
Since returning from an injury that cost him games against Northwestern and Minnesota, Canzeri has 36 carries over Iowa’s last three games, including a season-high 16 rushes for 55 yards against Nebraska.
Those 36 carries are the highest three-game stretch since games nine through 11 in 2013, a stretch that was launched by a 20-rush, 165-yard performance at Purdue, a day he looked like a healthy and happy Jordan Canzeri. He says he’s close to feeling that burst again.
“It’s great to see everyone running and back on the field with each other. It’s awesome for the competition, and we’re able to flow through and recognize that the people behind you can get the job done just as well as the people up front. It’s good for the offense.”
Junior running back Jordan Canzeri
“I wouldn’t say completely, but it’s good to get through those injuries and get in there,” he said. “This time off has been good. Practice has helped me a lot and prepared me for this upcoming game.”
The last time out he also nearly doubled his season total in receptions. He caught three passes against the Cornhuskers, including a five-yard touchdown on Iowa’s final play of regulation. He has seven catches this season, and welcomes the opportunity to become Iowa’s third-down back.
“I’m willing to help my team out in any way I can,” he said. “If they put me in at those times I feel like I can get the job done.”
Canzeri is the only Hawkeye this season to have 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving, so there are multiple ways the offense can put the ball in his hands. He also averaged 20 yards on seven kickoff returns, but doesn’t predict a heavy workload in that area on Friday.
“Most likely not,” he said, “but if I’m asked to I’m ready to help my team out in any way possible, but as of now, most likely not.”
As of now he is listed on the two-deep behind starter Mark Weisman, who has also used the time off to nurse the nicks and nags acquired from the 12-game regular season.
“It’s great to see everyone running and back on the field with each other,” said Canzeri. “It’s awesome for the competition, and we’re able to flow through and recognize that the people behind you can get the job done just as well as the people up front. It’s good for the offense.”
The TaxSlayer Bowl will kick off at 2:20 p.m. (CT) from EverBank Field in Jacksonville on Friday, Jan. 2. ESPN will televise the game.