Redshirt senior running back Akrum Wadley will lead his Iowa Hawkeyes against the Boston College Eagles in the Pinstripe Bowl on December, 27th. You can watch the action starting at 5:00 P.M. on ESPN.
Wadley stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 191 pounds. A two-star prospect from Newark, New Jersey, Wadley was lightly recruited largely due to only one full year of playing time. He missed the majority of his junior year with an injury from the previous basketball season. He broke out as a senior, rolling up 1,548 yards and 25 touchdowns on only 105 carries. Wadley originally committed to Temple, but a retired local coach with ties to the program contacted Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz directly. At the behest of the old coach, Ferentz met with Wadley in New Jersey and a few weeks later Wadley took his official visit. He committed to Iowa the following week.
Wadley arrived at Iowa weighing only 175 pounds. As the seventh RB on the depth chart, Wadley’s redshirt 2013 was spent adding weight and keeping his grades up. He played sparingly as a freshman with only 33 carries and one reception. That trend continued into the first-half of 2015 until he crushed Northwestern with 204 rushing yards and 4 TDs on 26 carries. That performance accounted for almost half of his rushing yards that year but set the stage for Wadley to take over in 2016.
Wadley’s back-to-back seasons with over 1,300 all-purpose yards can still go overlooked in the Big Ten Conference. Wadley finished fifth in rushing this year, behind the likes of Saquon Barkley, J.K. Dobbins, and Jonathan Taylor. However, raw yardage and TDs never tell the full story. That’s why we need to look at the player in relation to his market share of team production.
At the RB position, Matthew Freedman’s workhorse score was used to find their market share of the rushing offense, minus the QB. For wide receivers, we focused on their dominator ratings, which is the market share of receiving yards and TDs. Blair Andrews tried to marry these concepts with the RB dominator last year and is reflected in the table below. We have only a seven-game sample with Wadley with the bowl game remaining. Four games were decided by more than 28 points and one game was removed due to an injury that kept Wadley from completing it.
While Iowa’s offense is nothing to get out of your seat about, Wadley was the vital cog that kept the entire offense going. His dominator rating of .52 would have been tops in the 2017 rookie class; barely eclipsing first-round picks Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette. He should have our attention in the draft process based on elite production alone.
NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS
NFL Draft Scout currently ranks Wadley as the No. 5 RB in the 2018 class, though this list includes only seniors. The biggest concern on his physical profile is his weight. Despite being just under six-feet tall, Wadley’s weight falls more in-line with that of Chris Thompson, Lance Dunbar, and Dion Lewis. However, all are a few inches shorter than Wadley.
The combine is paramount for RB’s, as highlighted by Kevin Cole’s regression tree study. Wadley dominated in the production area, but until we have the athleticism part of the equation, we can only speculate. Early projections have Wadley as a late day-two or early day-three pick in the NFL draft. A nice showing in the Pinstripe Bowl and the Senior Bowl could help push him up draft boards.
Also plan to watch the Independence Bowl today? Make sure to check out our prospect profiles on Ito Smith and Auden Tate.