Nov 26, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Kene Nwangwu (20) returns a kickoff for a touchdown as West Virginia Mountaineers safety Toyous Avery (16) chases during the first quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Sophomore running back Kene Nwangwu has returned to practice following an achilles injury he suffered during winter conditioning, Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said during his weekly press conference Monday morning.
The Frisco, Texas native, who was named a first-team Freshman All-American at kick returner by Pro Football Focus last season, practiced with the Cyclones for the first time on Sunday. He is not partaking in contact drills at this point, but is on track to in the coming days and weeks.
“I think we’ll have a better understanding of Kene where he’s at and what he’s able to do,” Campbell said. “Was limited in terms of practice, but actually practiced full pads out there doing individual, just no contact yet this week. I think he’s on chart to where we thought he would be. We’ll make a really good decision with him in the next couple weeks.”
Nwangwu averaged 26.4 yards per kick return during his freshman campaign, which was the second-best mark in the Big 12 and 15th nationally. It was the third-best kick return average in program history.
Iowa State is averaging only 18 yards per return in Nwangwu’s absence with junior running back Mike Warren getting the majority of the reps. Warren was replaced by redshirt freshman Landen Akers for Iowa State’s loss to Texas last week and Campbell says that spot still remains in flux entering the Cyclones’ road trip to Oklahoma on Saturday.
“Kind of just trying to get some momentum back there to be honest with you,” Campbell said. “Just trying to figure it out. We didn’t really get any opportunities on Thursday so it didn’t really allow anything to occur. Johnnie Lang’s another guy that is certainly in that conversation. Johnnie got dinged up so he wasn’t available for us last week.”