The ghost of quarterback past


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Wednesday’s press conference with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, which kicked off the start of spring football, came with a surprise. Most expected the head coach, who is entering his 17th year at the helm of Iowa, to confirm the rumors that two-year starter Jake Rudock is transferring and will take his final year of eligibility elsewhere.

Not so fast.

Rudock is not listed on Iowa’s depth chart, but he has yet to leave the program, according Ferentz. He’s  listed in Iowa’s 2015 spring football guide as a lost letterman and is not on the team’s roster. The Hawkeyes entered the spring with C.J. Beathard as the No. 1 signal-caller; redshirt freshman Tyler Wiegers is listed as the backup.

“[Rudock is] exploring some other options at this point with our support and certainly not encouragement but support, but we’ll work through the process,” Ferentz said. “I signed an open release — I didn’t say open, but release is the right word. I don’t want to use the word permission; that’s kind of like I’m a czar or something like that.  

“We signed a release basically with no strings attached.  If he chooses to leave, I want him to have opportunities. I think that’s the only fair way to do this, the best for thing for him.”

Ferentz compared the situation with Cody Sokol’s last year. Sokol went through spring ball with the team and transferred to Louisiana Tech afterwards. That’s not necessarily to say Rudock will go through spring practice, but it’s just a comparison Ferentz made.

In two seasons as Iowa’s starter, the Westin, Florida, native threw for 4,819 yards, 34 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. The 6-3, 208-pounder was the subject of criticism from Hawkeye fans in 2014 for throwing a large number of short- to medium-range passes instead of throwing the deep ball, one of Beathard’s calling cards.

Following Tennessee’s 45-28 embarrassment of Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl in January, Iowa released a depth chart listing Beathard ahead of Rudock. Shortly thereafter is when the transfer discussions began and grew into the current state.

Should Rudock leave, there should be some concerns with Iowa’s depth at the quarterback position. Wiegers was a four-star recruit coming out of high school, but after that, things are thin, with Justin Joyce being the only other signal-caller. (That’s not including incoming freshmen Drew Cook and Ryan Boyle, both of whom Iowa hope to redshirt.)

“I know I’ve said [last year], ‘We have total confidence in both guys,’ ” Ferentz said. “I can’t say that right now the way the depth chart is, but I couldn’t say that in 2002, ’03, or ’04, either. That’s just the reality of it; that’s typical of most of our positions here. When you’ve got one, two, or even three, like Ohio State did, that’s a really unusual circumstance.  It’s part of the reality of things.”

But should Rudock officially decide to transfer and Iowa be left with that lack of depth, Ferentz said, his team will make do, and hope the best for Rudock in the process.

“I go back to Cody’s case, where I do have firsthand knowledge of what happened there,” Ferentz said. “I got that totally, and if Jake’s heart is not totally in being here, then it’s probably best that he does go somewhere else. But right now it’s just — I think he’s in an exploratory process at this stage.”

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa football team.