Gators must contend with another stellar Iowa tailback
Published: Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
One of the prevalent themes of this year's Outback Bowl is how different the two teams are from the ones who faced off in this game two years ago.
But one thing is the same for Florida.
The Gators have to figure out a way to slow down an excellent tailback from Iowa.
Two years ago, it was Fred Russell, who rushed for 150 yards and a key 34-yard touchdown in the third quarter of the Hawkeyes' 37-17 win.
This year, Florida has contend with the Big Ten's leading rusher.
Albert Young ran for 1,300 yards this season after missing most of the 2004 season with a knee injury.
"He reminds me a lot of (Alabama's) Kenneth Darby with his explosiveness," said Florida coach Urban Meyer.
Young was originally a Wisconsin commitment, saying he saw pictures of all of the great Badger tailbacks on the walls of the facility in Madison and thought that would be the best place for him.
But Iowa assistant Darrell Wilson encouraged Kirk Ferentz not to stop pursuing Young.
"Darrell just believed so strongly in Albert," Ferentz said. "After I made the home visit (to see Young), then I understood why. You meet Albert, you meet his mom and you meet some of his support network, and you understood. I saw what Darrell saw, and I'm glad he pestered me, he kept badgering me to keep recruiting this guy."
Young, from Moorestown, N.J., eventually chose to go to Iowa after a phone call from James Townsend, a receiver from nearby Holy Cross High School in Delran, N.J. Watching Iowa's game against Southern Cal in the Orange Bowl, Townsend called Young and told him they were both going to Iowa.
"I said, 'All right,'" Young said. "That was it. That finished it."
They know all about Young in Iowa City and certainly in the Florida camp, but the coaches of the Big Ten weren't that impressed with a guy who is working on a streak of seven straight 100-yard rushing games and averaged 5.5 yards a carry this season.
They left him off both the first and second teams when the postseason awards were announced.
"He ended up leading the Big Ten in rushing despite probably having negative yards in the first (conference) game (against Ohio State)," Ferentz said. Young actually had 25 yards on 10 carries.
"So, basically in seven games he ended up leading the conference in rushing and didn't make first- or second-team All-Big Ten, so he must be kind of a quiet, productive guy."
With Young and three other tailbacks injured last season, Iowa finished near the bottom of the country in rushing yards. But with Young healthy, the Hawkeyes have their running game going again.
There have been comparisons to Russell, but Ferentz thinks his tailback is more like current Washington Redskin Ladell Betts.
"Fred was more of a quickness, cutback, dart-type guy, whereas Albert's, I'm not saying he's Ladell Betts; he's probably closer to Ladell Betts in style, maybe a little bit more like that," Ferentz said early this week. "Fred was a pretty unique runner, obviously very, very productive. I guess Albert's productivity must be a little bit quieter, fly under the radar screen.
"But I'm glad we have him on our team."
You can reach sports columnist Pat Dooley by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 374-5053.
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