Iowa Fans Spot a New 'Jewel'
Aug. 30, 2008
IOWA CITY -- It's only one game and, admittedly, the opponent wasn't of Big Ten Conference caliber, but based on what the 31st consecutive sellout crowd at historic Kinnick Stadium saw Saturday afternoon when the 2008 Iowa Hawkeyes opened the season against Maine, it appears the Hawkeyes have rediscovered their running game.
Iowa used a group of ball carriers paced by junior Shonn Greene to collect 245 yards and four touchdowns via the ground game. Green gained 109 yards and scored one touchdown on 22 carries in his first action since the 2006 season and his first game as the No. 1 running back for the Hawkeyes. Paki O'Meara, Greene's No. 1 backup, added 23 yards and a score.
However, as good as Greene and O'Meara were, it was Jewel Hampton who caught the fancy of the 70,500-plus who basked in both sunshine and a 46-3 victory. The true freshman from Warren Central High School in Indianapolis took the opening kickoff straight up field for a gain of 26 yards.
It was the only time the 5-foot-9, 200-pounder ran straight ahead all day.
Hampton gave Iowa a 39-3 lead with 14:43 left in the final quarter when he took his first handoff as a collegian 19 yards and pay dirt. He also scored the Hawkeyes' final touchdown of the day when he scampered 22 yards with just more than three minutes left to play.
All counted, Hampton rushed for 68 yards on nine carries - a 7.6 average per carry.
"We have a new crowd favorite," announced Ed Podolak, the color voice of the Hawkeye Radio Network's live radio coverage.
"They'll be talking about Jewel in the parking lots tonight. `Who is that?' `Where did he come from?'
"He's got some quickness to the corner and he's not afraid to run up the middle. I'd say he's got a bright future with the Hawkeyes," added Podolak, who was also impressed with the offensive line.
"As a unit, it looks like we have a little more depth and we improved. They had a nice day."
Not as nice as Iowa's new jewel, however.
"Mr. Hampton will no doubt remember that first carry and his first day in Kinnick," laughed Podolak.
Hampton will no doubt have his day in the sun. However, Kirk Ferentz was equally delighted with the performances of Greene and O'Meara.
"It was good to see Shonn run as well as he did today and Paki? He's much improved and playing with a lot of confidence right now," said Iowa's veteran head coach.