Petras enters 2020 as favorite for starting quarterback

With Nate Stanley’s departure, Iowa is left with an open slot at quarterback, and Kirk Ferentz said Spencer Petras is the favorite to fill it.

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Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras makes a pass during a football game between Iowa and Middle Tennessee State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 28, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Raiders, 48-3. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Sports Editor

For the first time in three years, there’s a quarterback competition in Iowa City.

Nate Stanley’s run as the starter under center for the Hawkeyes came to an end with Iowa’s 49-24 victory over USC in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.

The frontrunner to take over for Stanley next year is Spencer Petras.

Petras served as Stanley’s backup this season and threw 10 passes in 2019 after only throwing one as a true freshman two years ago.

“I think going into this year, my assessment is that Petras is the next guy up,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s got to earn it every day. He’s there. And if you’re there, you’ve got to keep it there.”

Petras is the favorite to win next season’s starting job, but the competition for the spot will likely go into August.

Freshman Alex Padilla will also be fighting for the position, as will incoming freshman Deuce Hogan.

Peyton Mansell would have been in the conversation for the starting spot, but he opted to transfer to the FCS school Abilene Christian after the bowl game.

Petras may have staked his claim for the starting spot while Iowa was preparing for the Holiday Bowl.

“I think Spencer, especially in December, really looked like a college football quarterback,” Ferentz said. “He looked like a Big Ten quarterback in practice. That’s practice, but we do competitive stuff against each other, and I was pleased with what we saw with his growth.

“He seems to have all the attributes. Now, it’s a matter of him getting himself ready and going out and competing.”

There’s always a concern when an inexperienced quarterback is thrust into the starting job. It has to happen at some point, though, and Ferentz is confident Petras is capable of doing so.

“On one hand, you always worry about a guy that hasn’t played,” Ferentz said. “We’ve played with a lot of first-year quarterbacks and done fine. Going back to [Brad] Banks, [Nathan] Chandler, [Drew] Tate three straight years in a row. At some points, guys have to jump in the water.”

Ferentz speaks on early departures

After losing four players to the NFL Draft at the conclusion of last season, the Hawkeyes lost an additional four this year.

Tristan Wirfs, A.J. Epenesa, Geno Stone, and Toren Young have will all forgo their remaining eligibility in favor the 2020 NFL Draft.

“I think that’s just a sign of the times now,” Ferentz said. “That number — I don’t know if it’s growing, but it’s significant, and it was certainly significant last year. That’s just a part of the world we live in now. A lot of things are changing in the world, especially in the world of college football. That’s just one more part of the process.”

Iowa lost T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, Anthony Nelson, and Amani Hooker to the NFL after last season. The Hawkeyes still managed to win 10 games in 2019 despite those key losses.

Ferentz will be busy this offseason, again planning on how the team will overcome a roster makeover.

“Certainly, we would have loved to have all these guys stay with the football team,” Ferentz said. “They’ve chosen to move on. We wish them all the best.

“All four have been great team guys, great contributors. They’ve all had a great attitude. All I can do is wish them all the best. They’ll all do very well. All four are quality young people. They’re all good football players. I think they’ve got a good road ahead of them. Very, very appreciative of all the contributions they made to the program.”

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