Running back Gavin Williams becomes fifth Iowa football player to enter transfer portal

The sophomore, who rushed for 138 yards this season, announced his intention to enter the portal on Friday afternoon.


Gabby Drees

Iowa running back Gavin Williams runs with the ball during a football game between Iowa and Nevada at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. Williams rushed for 57 yards on 16 carries. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolf Pack, 10-7.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Iowa football’s offensive roster continues to thin, as running back Gavin Williams has become the fifth Hawkeye to announce his intentions to enter the transfer portal.

“Hawkeye Nation, I want to thank you for welcoming me and allowing me to represent the black and gold,” Williams said in a statement posted to Twitter. “To my teammates, coaches, and training staff, thank you for all of your support throughout my time here at Iowa. The connections I’ve made during my time here will truly last a lifetime. With all things considered, I have decided to enter the transfer portal with 2 years of eligibility left.”

Williams started the football season as the Hawkeyes’ No. 1 option at running back. But the sophomore went through mono and ankle injuries, falling to third on the depth chart. While Williams played in 11 games throughout the 2022 season, he only accounted for 138 yards on 43 attempts.

In Williams’ absence, true freshman Kaleb Johnson rose to the Hawkeyes’ top RB option. Johnson ended the regular season with a 762 yards on 142 attempts, including a 200-yard game against Purdue on Nov. 5.  Sophomore Leshon Williams finished the regular season second on the Hawkeye roster with 435 rushing yards.

Williams, who also had offers from Michigan and Nebraska, joined the Hawkeye program in 2020 out of Dowling Catholic High School. The Altoona, Iowa, native was a four-year high school football letterman and rushed for 1,263 yards as a senior in 2019.

The 6-foot, 214-pounder redshirted his true freshman season, playing in just one game against Michigan State in the Hawkeyes’ COVID-19-shortened 2020 season.

In 2021, Williams backed up former Hawkeye Tyler Goodson. Williams played in all 14 games, rushing for 305 yards as a redshirt freshman. He started the Citrus Bowl in place of Goodson, who opted out of the Hawkeyes’ bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Iowa’s roster for its upcoming bowl game continues to thin with Williams’ departure.

Williams joins quarterback Alex Padilla, wide receivers Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce, and offensive lineman Josh Volk as Hawkeye players from the 2022 roster in the transfer portal. Padilla and Volk both announced their intentions to enter the portal on Tuesday, Johnson did so on Thursday, and Bruce indicated his intent early Friday morning.

Undergraduate student-athletes technically cannot enter the transfer portal until Dec. 5, the day after championship selection, but players can announce their intent to leave their current school at any time. Athletes can still choose to return to their first school after they enter the transfer portal, at the coaches’ discretion.

The Hawkeyes will also be short of options at quarterback, and redshirt freshman Joe Labas, who has not yet played a snap for Iowa in his two-year career, may have to start the bowl game. Three-year starter Spencer Petras went down with an injury to his throwing arm in Iowa’s final game of the regular season against Nebraska on Nov. 25. Padilla finished out the game as Petras had his arm in a sling. While the Hawkeyes did grab former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara out of the portal, he will not be eligible to play for Iowa until the 2023 season.

Johnson and Bruce also will not play Iowa’s bowl game, leaving the Hawkeyes with senior Nico Ragaini, sophomore Diante Vines, and redshirt freshman Brody Brecht as Iowa’s only scholarship wide receivers.

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