A final decision is pending, but as things stand now, Akrum Wadley’s mother would like him back at Iowa for his senior season. The electric running back is gauging NFL interest after a breakout junior year.
“I want him to wait and come back to school,” Sharonda Phelps told HawkeyeNation.com Wednesday night.
Wadley led Iowa in rushing yards (1,081) and total touchdowns (13) this fall. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry. He also caught 36 passes for 315 yards.
While Phelps is leaning towards wanting her son to return, Wadley currently is leaning the other way.
“He wants to go, but I’m looking at everything. So far, it’s pointing towards staying in school. I believe he wants to go, but he’s a kid with a dream to be in the NFL. I don’t want him to rush that and then be playing football in Japan or something come September,” Phelps said.
“Him being this age (22 in March) doesn’t mean he’s mature. He still needs that guidance. He’s a kid that wants to be in the NFL. But if he decides to go now, we’re on pins and needles though the whole process. Next year, it doesn’t have to be pins and needles. That’s where I am with it.”
The family has gathered feedback on Wadley’s outlook in the draft. Akrum called Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz on Wednesday to see what he could find out from NFL personnel, Phelps said.
What Phelps has heard so far makes her leery about her son leaving school early. Jan. 16 is the cutoff date for declaring for the NFL Draft.
“I understand when (Wadley) says he’s ready and he could be a first- or second-round pick,” Phelps said. “There are some people telling us that. But that can change or turn out different. But if he stays longer, things can’t change. It’s not like his skills and talent are going to change. He just needs to pray he stays healthy because he’ll have a big senior year.”
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Phelps said the uncertainty surrounding her son’s NFL prospects factors heavily into her feelings. He’s being projected anywhere from a second- to late-round pick. Those predictions come from agents and self-proclaimed draft experts, not the player personnel folks making the decisions.
“You have all these people giving you all his information. I looked at it and I realized that I only believe the ones that I like. But the ones that I don’t like, it makes you wonder,” she said.
“It’s a very hard decision. There are a lot of things I want him to accomplish and he wants to accomplish, too. And I take into consideration that he’s young, so it’s not going to be his decision alone. And it’s not going to be an immature decision. What kid who’s trying to get into the NFL and has a chance would say no? He’d probably tell his father he’s going. But when it comes to me, we’ve got to sit down.”
Phelps said Wadley is on course to graduate in May.
“I wouldn’t send him back because that’s what other people want. I would send him back because a year from now it can be a bigger and better story and beneficial,” she said.
“I want him to take a run at the Heisman. He can take out an insurance policy just in case he gets hurt. We waited this long, another year is not going to kill us. I try to make a decision with his best interests in mind. As a coach, that’s what I do with my players (on the high school basketball team she coaches).”
Phelps said she’s waiting to hear back from Ferentz after leaving a message for him Wednesday morning.
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“Akrum and I have the utmost respect for Coach Ferentz,” Phelps said. “I hope to hear back from him soon considering where we’re at. I’d like to exchange thoughts on this with him.”
Iowa fans have been contacting Phelps through social media asking if her son is coming back.
“They want to see him at Kids Day. I’m getting it from everywhere,” she said with a laugh.
Asked how she sees things playing out, Phelps believes Hawkeye fans will be happy.
“He’s coming back. I can’t see him leaving. I just can’t see it,” she said.