Every time you hear about a story like running back Mark Weisman's ascent at Iowa, you wonder how many potential stars pass through college football without ever getting their chance.
A few weeks ago, Weisman was pretty much an unknown to everybody. He had a pair of carries for eight yards in Iowa's first two games. He was a walk-on fullback. There was really no reason to get to know him. There are plenty of guys with Weisman's profile on every team in college football every year.
Over the last three Saturdays, he has become the hottest star in Iowa City.
Weisman was moved to tailback, with Iowa having incredibly bad luck keeping tailbacks healthy or in school, and was given his chance against Northern Iowa on Sept. 15. He had 113 yards and three touchdowns. Interesting.
Then Weisman took off. On Sept. 22 he had 217 and three touchdowns against Central Michigan. Last Saturday he had 177 yards and a touchdown in a win against Minnesota.
That's 507 yards and seven touchdowns over three games from a guy who was pretty much anonymous to fans a month ago, and practically unrecognized by the coaches too. In Iowa's spring game, he didn't get one touch:
"We didn't know how nimble he would be, how athletic he would be, how he would be at making the reads and the cuts you have to make," head coach Kirk Ferentz told The Gazette of Cedar Rapids.
Weisman took an odd path to his sudden stardom. He started his career at Air Force, the only FBS school that offered him a full ride to play football, but lasted only a semester ("He told me for two weeks he slept on the floor because he couldn't make his bed rig(Associated Press)ht," Bill Mitz, Weisman's coach at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill., told The Gazette).
One of the reasons he ended up at Iowa was because, as the AP reported, it was one of the last schools that still uses a fullback. He had rushed for almost 3,000 yards his final two high school seasons, but playing fullback was his way on a team. After these last few weeks, it's safe to assume he won't have to worry about playing fullback again. Weisman is tied for 26th in the nation in rushing yards per game, which is impressive considering he got practically no stats in Iowa's first two games. Only two tailbacks in college football have a better season-long average than Weisman's 169-yard average over his past three games. And there's a chance Weisman would have toiled as the scout-team fullback for a few years before graduating had it not been for some unlucky breaks in the program and the coaches showing some creativity.
Ferentz said Weisman will get his scholarship in January. He has earned it.
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