Coach Kirk Ferentz announced Tuesday that starting running back Jewel Hampton will miss the entire 2009 season. Hampton had hurt his knee during offseason workouts, but was attempting to work through the injury before suffering another setback during August camp.
"We didn't foresee him being ready this week, and unfortunately it looks right now like he is not going to make it back period this year," Ferentz said. "It looks like it's an injury that's going to require surgery."
After rushing for 463 yards and seven touchdowns as a backup last year, Hampton had emerged as the leading contender to replace All-American Shonn Greene in 2009. When practice started in early August, the Indianapolis native declared himself nearly 100 percent healthy after the injury scare, but the knee started giving him problems again shortly after getting back on the field.
"We obviously thought he had a chance to make it back," Ferentz said. "A little bit ironic, I won't go into great detail, but he has practiced. I mentioned that in camp right before the open scrimmage is when he got hurt, so he was doing things that were heavy duty football things, and unfortunately the episode that triggered it, that tipped him over the balance was hardly of that category. He's been in a lot more strenuous exerting positions. It's just one of those things and it can happen to anybody. But certainly it's just unfortunate."
Hampton, who played last season as a true freshman, will use his redshirt year in 2009 and plans to return in 2010 with three years of eligibility remaining.
"Probably the only good thing I can say is it didn't happen in the fifth game," said Ferentz. "That's probably good news if you want to put a positive spin on it. The other good news is it's a repairable injury and he'll be back full strength here, but it's not going to be this fall, so that's unfortunate."
With the loss of Hampton, Iowa only has one other running back on the roster with any game experience. That is junior Paki O'Meara, who is currently No. 1 on the depth chart, and rushed for 62 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season. His backups going into Saturday's season opener against UNI are redshirt freshman Adam Robinson, true freshman Brandon Wegher, and redshirt freshman Jeff Brinson.