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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When it comes to being a household name, University of Iowa freshman Toks Akinribade isn’t there yet.
But give it time.
In fact, the first-year running back is used to having his name butchered.
“After a while people get the hang of it and they pronounce it right,” Akinribade said.
Phonetically, it is Toeks A-KIN-ri-body.
He is a 6-foot, 205-pound running back and one of 10 true freshmen to see action this season for the Hawkeyes. Akinribade graduated from Brownsburg (Indiana) High School, where, as a senior captain, he rushed for 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns.
A unique athletic talent, Akinribade acknowledges the uniqueness of his name. His family is from Nigeria and Toks means “Born over cities.”
In three games this season, Akinribade has carried the ball 12 times for 23 yards. His most productive performance was against Iowa State on Sept. 10, where he ran seven times for 21 yards.
“The game speed is a lot faster. Everybody knows what they’re doing and they understand their assignments,” Akinribade said.
In preseason camp, Akinribade roomed with senior running back LeShun Daniels, Jr. The veteran assisted the rookie with film study and helped him understand the details of what it takes to succeed in the Big Ten Conference.
“I want to learn as much as I can from the older guys, take tips from them, get to know the program and offense, and learn how to be a leader,” Akinribade said.
“I want to learn as much as I can from the older guys, take tips from them, get to know the program and offense, and learn how to be a leader.” — Toks Akinribade
Akinribade is fourth among Hawkeyes this season with 12 rushing attempts. Junior Akrum Wadley has gained 664 yards on 99 carries and Daniels has rushed for 642 yards on 129 attempts. Akinribade is soaking up everything he can from the upperclassmen.
“It is a great experience because I see how they run full speed, they take no reps off, and they keep going,” Akinribade said. “It’s a good experience learning from them — Ak’s good and LeShun is good, so it’s nice learning from them.”
Last season the Hawkeyes advanced to the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis and played approximately 15 minutes from Akinribade’s home. The UI recruit was unable to attend the game, but less than 10 month later he was in uniform and playing inside Kinnick Stadium.
“It has been good because it is getting me a head start and I feel like next year I should be prepared to go,” Akinribade said. “You have to have a daily plan and know what you’re doing.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz sees regular improvement from Akinribade.
“The real value is that he is working with the first and second-team offense during the course of the week, so that gives him more exposure than he would get if he was on the scout team,” Ferentz said. “Being around guys like LeShun and Akrum doesn’t hurt either — it’s great learning that way. We figured there would be a time where we would need another back and so far, so good.”
Akinribade is pursuing a major in business management.
The Hawkeyes (5-4 overall, 3-3 Big Ten Conference) host No. 2 Michigan (9-0, 6-0) on Saturday with kickoff set for 7:12 p.m. (CT).