Iowa football starting quarterback Spencer Petras out for Music City Bowl

The three-year starter suffered a season-ending injury to his throwing arm on Nov. 25.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras looks at Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz during a football game between Iowa and Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Petras was taken out for a suspected injury during the first quarter. The Huskers lead the Hawkeyes at halftime, 17-0.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Iowa football starting quarterback Spencer Petras will not play in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31, head coach Kirk Ferentz announced on Sunday afternoon.

“Unfortunately, Spencer Petras will not be able to play in the game,” Ferentz said during a Zoom press conference on Sunday. “The injury he had at the Nebraska ballgame was significant enough to require surgery, so he’s not going to be able to compete. Nobody’s more disappointed than him, obviously, like any player that has an injury that requires surgery. It’s good that he’ll be with us, but all of us wish he wasn’t on the sidelines.”

Petras suffered an injury to his throwing arm in the first quarter against Nebraska on Nov. 25. He was strip sacked by Nebraska’s Quinton Newsome, and retreated into the medical tent, testing out the mobility of his arm. Petras was eventually ruled out of the game, and backup quarterback Alex Padilla finished out the contest.  Padilla also will not be available for the bowl game as he entered the transfer portal last week.

While athletes can technically still play for the team they are planning to leave, Ferentz said that isn’t something he’s going to consider. Wide receivers Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce and running back Gavin Williams are also planning to enter the portal on Monday.

“You always hate to lose any player from the program. I said that earlier, and I do mean that sincerely,” Ferentz said. “But [Steelers head coach] Mike Tomlin was quoted saying, ‘You don’t want a hostage in the building,’ either. … If a guy’s not 100 percent on board, it’s probably best that we go our separate ways.”

Redshirt freshman Joe Labas or true freshman Carson May will start the bowl game, Ferentz said.

“We’ll let those guys work the next four weeks and see how they do,” Ferentz said. “We were on the field yesterday and I thought both did some good things, but there’s some work to do with both guys. The good news is that we have four weeks to get that done.”

Neither Labas nor May have thrown a pass in a collegiate game.

Labas came into the program in 2021 out of Brecksville, Ohio. The 6-foot-4, 207-pounder redshirted the 2021 season and has not seen any game action in 2022.

May will still preserve his redshirt if he plays in the Music City Bowl. The 6-foot-4, 221-pounder was a three-star recruit out of Jones, Oklahoma.

“We, as coaches, have to figure out what we have to do to give our team the best chance to win, knowing the players involved,” Ferentz said. “And we’ll know more about that in the next couple weeks. It really is a highly interesting situation, but we have a lot of strengths on our team.”

Tight end Sam LaPorta and cornerback Cooper DeJean, however will both play in the bowl game, Ferentz said. LaPorta suffered an injury in Iowa’s game against Minnesota on Nov. 19, while DeJean left the Nebraska contest with an injury on Nov. 25.

While Petras is out for the bowl game, he still has the option to return for a sixth season of college football. The NCAA gave all 2020-21 student-athletes an extra year of eligibility because of COVID-19.

Ferentz did not specify whether Petras would be taking advantage of a sixth year to return to the Hawkeyes. Before his injury, Ferentz thought Petras could go pro.

“It’s probably unrealistic to think that he’ll be able to throw a ball for several months now, including spring,” Ferentz said. “First things first, let’s get him healthy, and then I think he would’ve had a chance to be a pro guy, a pro free agent. I don’t know how this is going to affect it, we’ll know more in the calendar year.”

The Hawkeyes did land former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara out of the transfer portal on Thursday. McNamara started all 14 games of the Wolverines’ 2021 season, leading Michigan to the College Football Playoff.

McNamara suffered a severe leg injury, however, and will be rehabbing throughout the spring after he had surgery in November.

“He impressed the hell out of me,” Ferentz said of McNamara’s performance in the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game. “He was a leader on that team, a captain on that team. Very, very impressive. … Big surprise, Michigan’s got some good players.”

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