Iowa RB curse continues as Canzeri hurt

AIRBHG has reared his ugly head.

AIRBHG? You don't know him? Unfortunately, Iowa fans know him all too well. He's the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God, and he has taken another victim.

Hawkeyes sophomore running back Jordan Canzeri has torn an ACL in his knee and likely will miss the 2012 season, according to multiple reports. Canzeri, listed as Iowa's top running back on the pre-spring depth chart, injured his knee in practice Wednesday, and an MRI performed Thursday revealed the tear.

Scout.com first reported the news and talked with Canzeri's father, Brian.

"Dr. [Ned] Amendola said it was the ACL but the good news is that the rest of the knee is solid," Brian Canzeri said. "He's going to have surgery next week and hopes to get back into practice in September."

Brian Canzeri said that he expects his son to ease into things when he's cleared to practice and will most likely redshirt for the 2012 season.

Sources tell The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette that Canzeri, who has a redshirt available, won't play this fall.

The team has yet to confirm Canzeri's injury.

The loss of Canzeri isn't as devastating as Marcus Coker's departure in January, it continues a baffling string of setbacks for Iowa's running backs. Although AIRBHG has been around since 2001, he has been particularly cruel since Doak Walker Award winner Shonn Greene departed following the 2008 season. Since Greene declared for the NFL draft, Iowa has had six running backs leave the program, culminating with Coker, who ranked second in the Big Ten with 1,384 yards in 2011.

Canzeri started in place of the suspended Coker for the 2011 Insight Bowl, and he would have been in the mix to start this coming season. He's a smaller back, and Iowa likely will use a rotation rather than identify a bell cow like Coker was in 2011.

Canzeri's injury leaves Damon Bullock and De'Andre Johnson as Iowa's primary running backs in spring practice. Fullback Brad Rogers could see some carries at running back, but the big hope is that incoming freshmen Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill can contribute. Garmon in particular drew high marks as a high school standout.

As The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette's Marc Morehouse points out, Iowa has used a true freshman at running back in each of the past five seasons.

"Both of them are a little bit bigger backs," Hawkeyes running backs coach Lester Erb told reporters Wednesday, before Canzeri injured his knee. "Greg is more of a slasher. but he shows he can get downhill and run tough. Very good speed. Then Barkley just had a tremendous high school career up there at Cedar Falls and we are excited to get him in here. Both guys have a passion for football and both guys are going to have a chance to come in here and compete."

Iowa wants to run the ball and have balance in its offense, but the running back position has been so unstable that the Hawkeyes might have to once again trend toward the pass in 2012. It would really help if Garmon and/or Hill can contribute immediately this fall.