Stanley hopes to join history of Hawkeye veteran QBs’ success

Iowa football quarterback Nate Stanley is in his third year as a starter for the program, the latest in a long history of veteran QBs.


Nick Rohlman

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley throws a pass during the Outback Bowl game between Iowa and Mississippi State at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, January 1, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bulldogs 27-22.

Pete Mills, Assistant Sports Editor

On Oct. 24, 2009, on a darkly televised game on the Big Ten Network, then-Iowa football quarterback Ricky Stanzi marched his offense down the field through a gritty Michigan State defense to set his team up with a last-second passing touchdown to Marvin McNutt.

Poised, comfortable, focused.

Iowa veteran quarterbacks have displayed a long history of excellence in college play, with their years of experience helping them on the national stage. Many fans thought last year would be quarterback Nate Stanley’s chance to continue the trend.

But while the team was strong, nothing especially memorable occurred. Is a signature season on the national stage yet to come? Perhaps in looking at the history of Iowa veteran quarterbacks, the future of Stanley and his supporting cast becomes clearer.

1985 — Chuck Long

Most would agree Chuck Long was the most dominant quarterback in Iowa football history. Even now, 34 years after he took snaps in a Hawkeye uniform, Long owns program records in career touchdowns (70) and passing yards (9,671).

While he flourished throughout his college career, the quarterback’s biggest moments came in his senior season, where he thrived on the national stage.

Long was under center in then-No. 1 Iowa’s matchup with No. 2 Michigan at Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 19, 1985. Iowa regained the ball with just over five minutes left in the game, losing by a single point. Long showed off his strong demeanor and presence, driving Iowa down the field and setting up kicker Rob Houghtlin to nail the last-second field goal.

Nothing flashy. Iowa went on to win the Big Ten Championship that season, earning a ticket to the Rose Bowl.

2009 — Ricky Stanzi

Stanzi was a frustrating quarterback to watch much of the time, but he somehow managed to dig himself out of holes and win games, hardly ever panicking in testy situations

RELATED: Wieting helps lead Hawkeye tight ends into new era

On Oct. 31, 2009, Indiana was poised to upset Iowa at Kinnick after a struggling Stanzi threw 5 interceptions. But the then-junior rallied. A 92-yard touchdown pass to McNutt kicked off a massive fourth quarter from the Iowa offense, which scored 28 unanswered points to thwart the upset.

The win helped to push Iowa into the Orange Bowl, where the Hawkeyes took down No. 9 Georgia Tech — arguably the best bowl win in the tenure of head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Stanzi finished third in Iowa history in passing touchdowns (56) and third in passing yards (7,377).

2015 — C.J. Beathard

In Iowa’s most successful season of the 21st century, veteran junior quarterback C.J. Beathard took snaps for Ferentz.

On Dec. 5, 2015, Beathard lobbed up a monster pass in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Then-No. 4 Iowa trailed No. 5 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship, 9-6. No touchdowns had been scored.

RELATED: Stanley, Ojemudia, Young to represent Iowa at Big Ten Media Days

Receiver Tevan Smith caught the ball on his fingertips 50 yards downfield from Beathard and pranced into the end zone to give Iowa a lead.

Another bid to the Rose Bowl — the program’s first appearance in the game since 1985 — followed.

Beathard finished his career in the top 10 in Iowa history in most passing categories, with 5,562 passing yards and 40 passing touchdowns.

Stanley is already among the leaders in Iowa history in passing statistics, with his senior season yet to play. He’s not the same as any of these players, but in a lot of ways he carries some of the best characteristics of all of them — just in different moments.

He has proven he can move out of the pocket and throw on the run like Stanzi. He has proven he can throw bullets like Long and Beathard. Pulling all of these things together can make Stanley one of the best quarterbacks in the country, as Colin Cowherd predicted before last season.

A history of excellent veteran quarterbacks precedes him. But a strong season could be in the cards for the senior.