- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DES MOINES, IOWA (AP) - Marcus Coker is leaving Iowa, the fifth talented running back lost by the Hawkeyes since 2010.

The school said Tuesday that Coker has asked for and been granted a release from his scholarship. It didn’t disclose any details or reasons.

Coker rushed for 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore last season. He was suspended last month for the Insight Bowl after violating the student-athlete code of conduct for unspecified behavior.

Iowa spokesman Steve Roe told The Associated Press that coach Kirk Ferentz was unavailable for comment.

Coker’s departure comes on the heels of last week’s announcement that freshman Mika’il McCall would transfer. Freshman Jordan Canzeri, who led the team with 58 yards rushing in a 31-14 loss to Oklahoma in the bowl game, would appear to be in line for the starting job, along with Damon Bullock, De’Andre Johnson and fullback Brad Rogers.

The move might also open up a spot for a true freshman to compete for carries next season.

Coker came to Iowa as a true freshman in 2010 behind sophomores Brandon Wegher, Jewel Hampton and Adam Robinson.

Wegher left the team during camp and Hampton transferred to Southern Illinois following knee trouble. Robinson earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors with 941 yards and 10 touchdowns before academic issues and an arrest for marijuana possession led to his departure.

That left the starting spot to Coker, and the 6-foot, 230-pound native of Beltsville, Md., quickly developed into one of the Big Ten’s best backs.

Coker finished second in the Big Ten behind Wisconsin’s Montee Ball in rushing yards, and his straight-ahead, physical style meshed perfectly with Iowa’s pro-style offense.

Without Coker, Iowa could have trouble establishing the kind of potent ground attack long favored by Ferentz.

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