Hawkeyes' Butler returns to 'do something special'

After injuring his elbow in week 3, running back considered redshirting

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Hawkeyes will need everybody and anybody to be at their best on Saturday against No. 3 Ohio State.

Iowa senior running back James Butler will again be available in the backfield, something that wasn't decided until late last week. 

"I know we can do something special," Butler said. "We can turn it around if we decide to."

To play or not to play. That was Butler's question after injuring his elbow in week 3 against North Texas.

"At one point it was, 'I'm gonna play, no matter what, I wanna play. I worked so hard to get back,'" Butler said. "Then there was days where I'm like, 'No, I'm gonna redshirt. I can come back, get a full offseason and get a full season under my belt'."

Faced with the dilemma, Butler said he leaned on his mother and his experiences when he decided to transfer to Iowa. He eventually chose to return to the black and gold this season.

"I'm glad I made it," Butler said. "I'm excited to be back on the field. That was the goal during this process." 

Butler rushed for just 28 yards in his return against Minnesota, but made an impact in other ways, including the energy in the locker room.

"He's always ready to go and excited to play," Iowa senior receiver Matt VandeBerg said. "That's something that's synomonous with J.B. is that he's always excited everytime he gets out there, always has a big smile when he comes to the huddle." 

"He's a guy that I think gives us some energy and his leadership," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We don't have a lot of seniors in that huddle. So you get another senior with good eyes stepping in that huddle. That's a really, really, positive thing for us." 

The Hawkeyes hope Butler's return can jumpstart the running game down the stretch. Akrum Wadley said a running back platoon keeps both players fresh and defenses off balance.

"It switches up the pace, you know, if I'm in there and then James get in there," Wadley said. "He adds a different element to the game, you know. I got my style, he's got his style and... we both like big plays." 

If nothing else, getting Butler and Wadley going in the running game on Saturday will keep Ohio State's offense off the field. The Buckeyes are averaging 46.2 points per game. Not a team the Hawkeyes want to get in a shootout with if they want to spring the upset on Saturday. 

For more Hawkeye football coverage, follow @AdamJRossow and @HawkeyeHQ on Twitter -- and now Facebook -- and Hawkeye Headquarters on OurQuadCities.com all season.

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