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The only running back in program history to lead Iowa in rushing for four-straight seasons is returning to his alma mater.

Ladell Betts has been chosen as the Hawkeyes' new running backs coach, Head Coach Kirk Ferentz announced Monday. Ferentz also named George Barnett to his coaching staff to serve as Iowa's offensive line coach.

“I am excited to welcome Ladell and George to our program,” Ferentz said in a press release. “Both are interested in helping our student-athletes reach their potential on and off the field.”

The selection of Betts and Barnett cap a six-week search process that Ferentz described as methodical and comprehensive.

“It is important to hire on culture and philosophy first, and then football acumen,” said Ferentz. “I know Ladell and George will make meaningful contributions to our program and players.”

Betts starred for the Hawkeyes from 1998 to 2001, then went on to play nine seasons in the NFL. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in his final two seasons (2000-01) at Iowa, gaining 1,090 as a junior and 1,060 as a senior. Betts scored 25 career rushing touchdowns, including 10 in his final season. His career totals also include 702 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

The Blue Springs, Mo., native ranks second in career rushing yards (3,686), fourth in all-purpose yards (4,397) and 19th in career scoring (162).

“I am excited to be back at my alma mater, where I had the opportunity to develop as a player under coach Hayden Fry and coach Kirk Ferentz,” said Betts. “Now I have the opportunity to do the same for another generation of young players as part of coach Ferentz’s staff. It is incredible to feel like things have truly come full circle for me. I’m ready to get to work.”

Betts was head coach at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the past two seasons.

Barnett joins the Iowa football program after being named offensive line coach at Tulane in December, 2020. Previously, he was on the coaching staff at Miami (Ohio) for seven seasons. Barnett has more than 20 years of offensive line coaching experience at the collegiate level, including stops at Illinois State, Division II powerhouse Grand Valley State of Michigan, and Indianapolis.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff and to help maintain the standard of excellence in the Iowa offensive line room,” said Barnett. “I am familiar with the success of the Iowa program and the Big Ten Conference overall. My family and I are excited to get to Iowa City and be part of an outstanding institution and athletics program.”

Barnett is a native of Tuscola, Ill.

Iowa is scheduled to begin spring practice during the last week of March. The Hawkeyes open their 2021 season Sept. 4 at Kinnick Stadium, hosting Big Ten Conference rival Indiana in the first of seven home contests.

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