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Paki is Kirk’s kind of guy

Kirk Ferentz managed to put a happy face on a pretty unhappy situation Tuesday when he revealed that Jewel Hampton will undergo knee surgery and will be sidelined for the entire season.

You never know when coaches are being completely upfront with you, especially when this particular coach implied on a teleconference at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday that Hampton might be back in a week or two, then less than an hour later announced he was gone for the year.

But the hunch is that Ferentz was being genuine in saying the Hawkeyes will be OK with Paki O’Meara as the starting running back, possibly as part of a committee of backs.

As I’ve written in the past, Iowa is going to need to throw the ball much more this season no matter who lines up at running back. O’Meara, although not the most explosive runner of the group, may be the best receiver and the best blocker. So he may, in fact, be the best fit.

Redshirt freshman Adam Robinson could provide a change of pace with his quickness. Jeff Brinson, when he gets healthy, may provide more of a power element. And true freshman Brandon Wegher, if his high school numbers are any indication, should be a big factor once he gets some experience. It might be a good blend.

None of them figures to be a big star. Obviously, none of them is going to be Shonn Greene. But between them, they should be able to get the job done.

And the future at this position is extremely bright. O’Meara will still be around next season as a senior and all those other guys – Hampton, Brinson, Robinson, Wegher – will be sophomores. And all of them may have trouble holding off Marcus Coker, a 222-pound stud from Hyattsville, Md., who has made a verbal commitment to sigh with the Hawkeyes in February. The problem next season may be finding enough playing time to satisfy everyone.