Ennis Haywood

It turns out that being a leading rusher for Iowa State between 2000 and 2006 is a cursed position, as three of the program’s former running backs have died since leaving the school. Hiawatha Rutland died this week, and was preceded by Ennis Haywood and Stevie Hicks.

Rutland played for the Cyclones between 2000 and 2003, leading the team in rushing yards in 2002 with 614 yards. The 33-year old was found dead in Lake Erie, in the vicinity of Whiskey Island earlier this week according to a release from the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Medical Examiner.

Apparently, he jumped from a private boat to swim along with his girlfriend to shore. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Rutland began to flounder about 90 feet from land.

Paul Rhoads, the current head coach of the Cyclones (since 2009) was also a linebackers and defensive backs coach in the late 1990’s with the school, back when Rutland was recruited.

Great Cyclone. Great human being with a monster size heart. I was fortunate to be here when he was recruited, fortunate to be here when he played, fortunate to be here when he’s come back to this state and this university every year. A funny human being. Kind of guy that would do everything for his teammates. A great friend. Sad day.

Ennis Haywood dies in 2003 after ingesting ethanol and two drugs. Haywood played for the Cyclones from 1998 to 2001, leading the team in rushing during his Junior and Senior years. He made it to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad but never played in the NFL. He ranks fifth on Iowa State’s all-time rushing yards list with 2,862 yards and sixth with 27 rushing touchdowns.

In 2008, Stevie Hicks, the leading rusher for the team four years in a row (2003-2006). Hicks committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.

Running backs aren’t the only former Cyclones who have passed away too soon over the years: Cris Love was a quarterback on the team from 2000 to 2003, and in 2006 lost his bout with cancer.

Earlier this year, Jason Berryman was shot and killed, found dead in his Jefferson, Texas home. Cyclones assistant Curtis Bray died of a pulmonary embolism in January. Justin Eilers, a linebacker who played for Iowa State in 2001, died in 2008 as well.

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