'They're not the same': Kirk Ferentz discusses Hawkeyes' running backs Gavin, Leshon Williams


By season's end, the Iowa Hawkeyes will have a new leading rusher. That's because the Hawkeyes' leading rusher in 2021, running back Tyler Goodson, is off to the NFL where he's still looking to catch on somewhere.

Goodson finished the 2021 season for Iowa with 1,151 rushing yards on 256 carries and six touchdowns. Those numbers were good for a 4.5 yards per carry average last season.

Now, enter Williams times two. Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams were listed as the Hawkeyes No. 1 and No. 2 running backs in the South Dakota State depth chart reveal, respectively.

Gavin Williams, a 6-foot, 214 pound running back from Altoona, Iowa, rushed 65 times for 305 rushing yards in 2021. That included 28 carries over the Hawkeyes' final two games, including 16 totes for 98 rushing yards in Iowa's 20-17 Vrbo Citrus Bowl loss against Kentucky.

Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz was asked how important it was to help them prepare for 2022 that the pair saw legitimate action in last season's bowl game.

"I think so, for sure. I still appreciate the fact that we knew a couple weeks out ahead. That was a good thing. Tyler gave us a heads up on that, so it gave both those guys a chance to prepare as starters, and they both did a nice job I thought all month in December and both played well in the bowl game.

"I think at least we came into this season feeling pretty good about who our one and two are and how they can do, and both of them have done a great job, and then the key thing is moving forward with the younger guys. It's been a really good valuable four weeks for both the incoming freshmen. They've done a nice job," Ferentz said.

And what about their styles? Is there a distinctive difference between the pair's running styles?

"They're not the same. Obviously they have the same last name, but a little different styles I guess. But they're both, they complement each other well. I think they're both very, very capable. Gavin was probably a little bit more polished if you would or refined when he got here. He just continues to do a really good job. He's studying everything he does and really has a mature approach.

"Leshon I think is the guy who's kind of, he's really surprised us. I think it was a year ago spring when I mentioned he just kind of caught my eye, and I think he's done nothing but improve since that time. I think both of them are very capable of playing well, so it's good to know you have two guys that you have confidence in. Now the next challenge is, who's going to be the next man in," Ferentz said.

Two freshmen running backs, Kaleb Johnson and Jaziun Patterson, will have a legitimate chance to earn that No. 3 running back position.

"I think both of them are in the mix right now. At least we have plans to let them go, as well, and we'll see how the game plays out. But I don't know if they'll both be in there Saturday, but my guess is at least one of them will," Ferentz said of Johnson and Patterson.

It'll be interesting to see how the rushing attack as a whole shakes out for the Hawkeyes. Iowa ranked No. 101 nationally in rushing offense last season, averaging 123.6 rushing yards per game.

Of course, Williams times two will go a long way in determining just how explosive the Hawkeyes' offense is in 2022.


22 Iowa Hawkeyes football stats to know entering the 2022 season


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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire


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