Iowa football is looking to recover from a horrendous 3-8 2012 campaign. Quarterback James Vandenberg moved on to the NFL where he’ll be fighting for a roster with the Minnesota Vikings. It’s hard to think Vandenberg will be missed in Iowa City after his pitiful 2012 season. Vandenberg had more interceptions than touchdown passes. West Virginia’s Geno Smith had more passing touchdowns in one game – 8, than Vandenberg did all season – 7. The Hawkeyes will be looking for a breath of fresh air at the quarterback position in the upcoming season. There are three players battling for the coveted position. Let’s take a look at the candidates.
Rudock is the favorite to win Iowa’s starting quarterback job. The redshirt sophomore served as Vandenberg’s backup all of last year. Rudock didn’t see any game action last season, which is a bit concerning given Vandenberg’s struggles. However, the redshirt freshman does have an impressive football background. The Weston, Florida native was the starting quarterback for St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the top high school football programs in the country. As a senior, the South Florida Sun Sentinel named him the South Florida player of the year as he led his team to an undefeated season resulting in a state championship.
Along with his winning pedigree, Rudock possesses a natural skillset for a pocket passer. He has solid footwork with adequate arm strength, but his best asset is his accuracy. Rudock is able to throw the ball with good velocity allowing him to fit his passes into tight windows. He possesses decent escape ability, though he’s not a true running threat. Additionally, he’s been on campus for two years now so Rudock figures to be ready to step into a leadership role. He was named to the 2013 Iowa Football Leadership Group, which helps formulate team policies and makes decisions on issues relevant to the upcoming season.
Sokol is a redshirt junior who has two years of eligibility remaining with the Hawkeyes. Before arriving in Iowa City, he attended Scottsdale Community College. He put up big numbers during his two years at Scottsdale by passing for 6,250 yards and 67 touchdowns. The redshirt junior earned second team All-America honors and made the first team all-conference and all-region squads as a sophomore. Sokol was a standout high school player in Arizona as a junior but his senior season was derailed by injuries just three games in.
Sokol received additional offers from Arizona, Maryland, and Cincinnati. He brings a powerful arm and much-needed big play potential to the Hawkeye offense. Sokol, like Rudock, is more of a traditional pocket passer. His 4.8 40 yard dash time suggests that he has decent mobility but lets not get carried away, he’s not the second coming of Brad Banks. Sokol only has two years of eligibility left so it’s now or never for the Hawkeye quarterback.
Beathard was a talented high school recruit coming out of Tennessee. In his senior season he made first team all-state and was runner up for the state’s “Mr. Football Award.” The redshirt sophomore was a longtime Ole Miss commit before he changed allegiances to the Hawkeyes after the Rebels fired head Coach Houston Nutt.
Beathard is a pro-style quarterback, like the other two Iowa quarterbacks competing for the starting spot. He has a rocket for an arm and probably has the best combination of arm strength and accuracy out of the three Hawkeye quarterbacks. His height, weight, and speed all compare similarly to Rudock’s and Sokol’s. Although, Beathard finds himself behind the eight-ball in Iowa’s quarterback competition. He’s the young-gun, which doesn’t necessarily count him out, but it doesn’t work in his favor either. During practice he’s looked a little hesitant and confused. Mistiming and miscommunications with his receivers plagued the redshirt freshman during spring practice. Beathard has to make a big impression on the Iowa coaching staff during summer camps to earn the starting job.
Overall, Rudock seems to be the leading candidate in Iowa Football’s quarterback competition. Coaches have had more of an opportunity to watch Rudock in practice and workouts compared to Beathard and Sokol. The redshirt sophomore has experience starting for a big-time football program going back to his playing days at St. Thomas Aquinas. Still, there are two months before the season begins so anything can happen. Stay tuned.