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 KATHLEEN DOYLE
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa football team has running back roles to fill following the graduation of two experienced seniors in Akrum Wadley and James Butler.
A rising, redshirt sophomore feels ready to take on that responsibility.
Toren Young is a powerful runner who gets north-south in a hurry. The Madison, Wisconsin, native is poised to embrace a significant role this season after rushing for 196 yards last season — the most of any returnee. Wadley and Butler rushed for a combined 1,592 of the Hawkeyes’ 2,133 total rushing yards in 2017, so the experience that Young gained from playing seven games last season will be essential.
“(Wadley and Butler) showed me how to handle a game week, how to prepare and work,” Young said. “They are great role models for me on how to handle the pressure.”
The strong, 5-foot-11 running back has also been endorsed by his peers, evident by his election to the Football Leadership Group for the second year in a row. He is the only sophomore and one of 12 student-athletes named to the group.
“To be voted by teammates as a leader is a great responsibility,” said Young. “It gives me a sense of confidence knowing that guys in the locker room that are older, younger, and the same age as me look up to me as a leader going into the season.”
Young has proven that he excels at the intangibles — he was an Academic All-Big Ten selection in 2017. But, he is ready to showcase what he can do as a player to help the team win games.
The first step in his new role is to build a cohesive running back unit. Young is complemented by sophomore running back Ivory Kelly-Martin. The two look to provide a dynamic one-two punch with Kelly-Martin being a quick, shifty back, and Young being a physical runner.
The group also went from having four players in the spring to seven players this summer.
“It has been good getting to know those guys,” said Young. “I know they are competitive guys that get after it. We are going to push each other every day.
“(Iowa strength and conditioning) coach (Chris) Doyle puts us through a great program. We have a lot of position specific training that we do, so he gets us ready for the season.”
Young has attacked each day as a player and leader this offseason, and is looking forward to suiting up for the 2018 season.
“Getting the opportunity to play a little bit more and help the team is exciting and something I have been looking forward to,” Young said. “I am ready to get after it.”