Iowa football backup quarterback Alex Padilla enters transfer portal

The junior did not start any of the Hawkeyes’ games in 2022, playing behind senior Spencer Petras.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla scrambles during a football game between Iowa and Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Padilla had a quarterback rating of 10.8. The Huskers defeated the Hawkeyes, 24-17.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

Iowa backup quarterback Alex Padilla has entered the transfer portal. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder is in the portal as a graduate transfer. He plans to graduate from the University of Iowa in December.

“It’s been an honor to represent the Black and Gold for these past four years,” Padilla wrote in a statement. “I will cherish every moment and lesson I’ve learned along the way. I would like to thank the University of Iowa and my coaches, athletics staff, and Hawkeye fans for the incredible journey. Thank you to my teammates, our bonds will last a lifetime. After much thought, I have decided to enter the transfer portal as a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining.”

Padilla started in three of the 11 games he played as a Hawkeye, throwing for 821 yards and three touchdowns.

Padilla, who joined the Hawkeye football program in 2019 as a true freshman from Greenwood Village, Colorado, was 3-0 as a starter at Iowa. All of his starts came while senior Spencer Petras was injured in 2021.

Padilla played in two games in 2022. He was inserted into Iowa’s 54-10 loss to Ohio State at halftime on Oct. 22 and finished the game 5-of-10 for 32 yards. He also committed two turnovers — one via interception and another on a botched snap exchange with center Logan Jones. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz benched Petras at halftime in Columbus because he committed three turnovers in two quarters. Petras went 6-of-14 for 42 yards against the Buckeyes.

Padilla also took over for Petras in the first quarter of Iowa’s 24-17 loss to Nebraska on Nov. 25. Petras went down with an injury to his throwing arm and was later spotted on the sideline in a sling.

Padilla went 16-of-33 for 141 yards, a touchdown, and an interception against Nebraska. All 17 of Iowa’s points came with Padilla under center.

After the Hawkeyes lost to the Cornhuskers, Padilla said he was still evaluating what his future might look like.

“You know, I haven’t really had the chance to think about any of that,” Padilla said on Nov. 25. “Right now, I’m just reflecting on this loss. I’ll continue to try to progress as a player and myself, look towards the next couple weeks as kind of a building or stepping stone for myself. I’ll have time to reflect the next couple weeks. But we’ll see what happens.”

Padilla’s decision to enter the transfer portal comes a day after rumors about Iowa’s interest in former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara began to swirl on Twitter. McNamara started all 14 games for the Wolverines and led them to a College Football Playoff appearance in 2021. He lost the starting job to sophomore J.J. McCarthy in 2022. McNamara entered the transfer portal on Monday and had season-ending knee surgery in early November. He is recovering in Los Angeles, and his return-to-play timeline is unclear.

Iowa’s director of recruiting, Tyler Barnes, currently follows both McNamara and his father, Gary McNamara, on Twitter.

Cade McNamara and Padilla have yet release lists of schools they’re considering. Under current rules, players that enter the transfer portal are allowed to return to their first school.

It is unclear if Padilla will be allowed to play in the Hawkeyes’ 2022 bowl game. Petras’ status for the Hawkeyes’ postseason game is also uncertain, as Ferentz has yet to disclose the nature of his starting QB’s injury.

If Petras and Padilla both can’t participate in Iowa’s bowl game, redshirt freshman Joe Labas or true freshman Carson May would likely be named starting quarterback. Labas and May are both three-star recruits from Ohio and Oklahoma, respectively.

Padilla has been Petras’ backup for the last three years. Petras can choose to return to Iowa or transfer to another institution in 2023, as he has another year of eligibility because of COVID-19.