IOWA CITY, Iowa — On Wednesday, Iowa football lost their highest rated running back recruit since Marcus Coker in 2010 when four-star Florida running back Kendrick Raphael announced that he would be decommitting from Iowa’s 2023 recruiting class.
Iowa’s 2023 class is now left without a running back.
When Raphael committed in June, he was quickly recognized as one of Iowa’s highest rated 2023 commits, only supplanted by five-star phenom offensive tackle and Des Moines native Kadyn Proctor.
Raphael is the 26th ranked running back and the 379th overall prospect in the class of 2023, according to the 247 Sports Composite ratings.
Raphael likely would've factored into the rotation as a true freshman with head coach Kirk Ferentz's documented willingness to play highly-touted true freshman running backs. Ferentz started Tyler Goodson in his 2019 freshman campaign and current true freshman Kaleb Johnson is already seeing a rise in snaps, gaining 103 yards on seven carries last weekend.
Prior to committing to Iowa in June, Raphael held scholarship offers from NC State, Boston College, Duke, Iowa State, Louisville, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.
Considering his offer list, it came as a slight shock when Raphael wrapped up his commitment early in June. Iowa coaches knew Raphael might garner interest from other programs during his senior season, and now they must look elsewhere for ball-carriers.
It's not immediately known whether Iowa will continue to pursue Raphael.
A result of Iowa's offensive struggles?
After three weeks, Brian Ferentz’s offense ranks dead last in yards per game.
National pundits, fans and members of the team have grown increasingly critical of Iowa's offense as they've recorded yardage totals of 166, 150 and 337 yards (against a bad Nevada team) in their first three games.
Fortunately for the idle Iowa offense, Phil Parker's defense continues to terrorize opposing offenses, allowing the fourth-least yards per game in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision).
In addition, Iowa's offensive starting field position has received regular assistance from All-American punter Tory Taylor, who leads the FBS in total yards punted with 1,110, and is third in yards punted per game.
In a Tuesday press conference, Kirk Ferentz was asked whether he'd ever seen a punter as successful as Taylor has been up to this point in his career. Ferentz responded, "Yeah... I was here when [Reggie] Roby was here. I'm not comparing one to the other... they were guys you noticed," Ferentz said.
Ferentz compared Taylor to a three-time NFL All-Pro punter and NFL's 1980s All-Decade Team member, yet Iowa's offense has repeatedly failed to cash in on his contributions.
Iowa's offense has produced scoring outputs of seven, seven, and 27 points, all resulting from exceptional field position that can be attributed to Phil Parker's dogged defense and Tory Taylor's mammoth leg.
With Iowa’s historically miserable offensive start, it would be fair to speculate that offensive skill recruits like Raphael wonder how their collegiate career will be affected by Iowa's offensive ineptness.
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