All 3 Hawkeye QBs Equal Entering Camp
By Marc Morehouse (Story) and Scott Saville (Video), Reporters
CHICAGO, Ill. -- Nothing has been decided at quarterback and everyone is still in the race.
The Hawkeyes wrap up summer workouts this week. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from observing these workouts, so Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will go into August camp with an open mind.
"You have to be fair to the players in competition and you have to be fair to the team," Ferentz said Thursday at Big Ten media days. "My suspicion is things will look different in August than they did in April, the whole team will look different."
If you had to handicap the QB battle coming out of spring practice, sophomore Jake Rudock probably held an edge over junior Cody Sokol and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard. During spring practice, the Iowa staff was very conscious of evenly distributing practice repetitions with each QB seeing the same amount of snaps with the first through third teams.
That will continue, but there will be a keener eye toward a decision sooner rather than later, Ferentz said.
"It's not easy if you have three guys in the race," he said. "Certainly, it would be easier with two, but right now that's not the case. . . . I don't have any expectations, other than I hope all three look improved. I think they will."
Ferentz believes that whoever wins the job has a better chance at being supported than James Vandenberg was last season.
"I'm including everything," he said. "Still, I think our biggest question marks outside of who's going to be our quarterback is the receiver position. We're young and we don't have the depth and firepower we need at this point.
"The good news is we have a line that's fairly veteran. We have tight ends that are fairly veteran. We have running backs we didn't have last year. I think there's a chance, as a whole, to have a better starting point than we had last year."
Getting to the point of having a decision to make
Let's be realistic, Iowa has a left tackle offensive tackle who has all the prerequisites to be an NFL draft pick.
Junior Brandon Scherff is tough, mean, big (6-5, 315) and freakishly strong. This summer, Iowa published a YouTube video that showed Scherff, who's from Denison, hang clean 410 pounds three times.
There are a lot of "ifs," but Scherff is on a track and Ferentz can see it and they've talked about it, "For about 30 seconds," Ferentz said.
"As you get down the road, if there's a discussion to have, we'll have it," Ferentz said. "It's realistic to think that could happen. If he ends up in the same seat as Riley [Reiff] or Bryan [Bulaga, two Iowa O-linemen who left early for the draft], that's a good seat to sit in. You can't really make a wrong decision there.
"What I would say the challenge for Brandon is to get in that seat."
That is the challenge. Scherff suffered a broken fibula and dislocated ankle and missed Iowa's final five games. There's still work to be done.
"It's going to be up to him and it's going to start with him having a good year," senior right tackle Brent Van Sloten said. "It's his choice, and if he has a choice, that means he had a great year and if he had a great year, then we probably had a good year. There's no downside. You try to encourage a guy to stay as long as he can, but a guy like Riley Reiff made a good choice for himself. Time will tell."
Senior linebacker James Morris is a political science major who's been a two-time academic all-Big Ten pick and who carries at least a 3.7 GPA.
So, he has closely studied the world of politics. Asked Thursday if he would entertain a career in the field, perhaps as a congressman, he said a polite no.
"The more I learn about it, the less it appeals to me," he said.
Twitter bravado gone
Twitter is prevalent in the world of college football recruiting. It's often the public's first introduction to a player. Last January, the Iowa world was introduced to linebacker Reggie Spearman, whose confidence came through loud and clear in his tweets.
Spearman has been in Iowa City for summer workouts. Of course, Iowa players are banned from Twitter, so his account has gone silent. And, yes, his confidence is more muted in person.
"He doesn't really talk as much right now," senior linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "He's really humbled himself since he came to college. He's unfamiliar with it. We don't see him talk that much, but you can tell once he gets it going, he's going to be that type of player."
Kirksey is young for his class. He's a senior and he won't turn 21 until Aug. 31, Iowa's home opener. Spearman also is young. He won't turn 17 until Aug. 17, midway through his first college camp.
"I just found that out two weeks ago," Kirksey said. "He said he skipped third grade and he's young for his class."
The White effect
Ferentz has seemed to have struck recruiting gold with assistant coach Chris White.
White, Iowa's newest assistant hire [running backs, special teams], has had a hand in recruiting five of Iowa's commitments in the 2014 class. Many of those recruits committed to Iowa before they visited campus.
"Chris has a great personality," Ferentz said. "Our players have taken to him, very quickly. That's our backs as well as our special teams. They just enjoy his approach, demeanor and it seems like the recruits have been receptive as well."
Ferentz said he expects the 2014 recruiting class to include 19 or 20.
'A better Iowa coach'
During the offseason, Ferentz said on a few different occasions that offensive coordinator Greg Davis will be a better "Iowa" coach this season.
That means . . .
First, let's set the scene a little when Davis arrived. He was officially hired in late February, just in time for spring practice to start. Iowa installed Davis' system language and, in Ferentz's words, "There was a lot of learning and teaching going on for coaches and players."
OK, that means . . .
"Greg is more comfortable with who we are," Ferentz said, "what our personnel is, what we can do and what we can't do. I think that'll show up. You would never know it by watching our offense [last season], but Greg is an excellent coach, excellent teacher, tremendous human being. He fits the profile of the guys we've had as coordinators and as coaches in general."
One key hire in the offseason that might help in translation is wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy, who worked under Davis for seven seasons (2004-10) as wide receivers coach when Davis was Texas' offensive coordinator.
"They're not quite like a married couple, but it's close," Ferentz said. "They go back and forth pretty well. There's a real comfort level. I think that's certainly an advantage."