Last season, back-up quarterback Jake Rudock got to find out what the atmosphere at Penn State or Nebraska feels like first-hand.
But Rudock was only signaling in plays to starter James Vandenberg, not taking snaps and staring down 100,000 hostile fans.
“All those classic stadiums,” Rudock said. “It was nice to get the experience, be on the road to know how it works. So after that, it’s just another part of the process.”
Rudock’s first year at Iowa was one big learning experience.
And part of what he learned was that John Wienke was going to focus on being a punter and A.J. Derby was going to switch to linebacker (before transferring).
And there was Rudock, redshirting, but also one injury away from perhaps being thrown in the mix as a true freshman.
“You always want to be ready,” Rudock said. “All of us came here to play football. If you have to play a little earlier than they told you two months ago, then that’s how it is.
“Coach Ferentz knows what’s best for you.”
Vandenberg stayed upright and passed for 3,022 yards and led the Hawkeyes to a 7-6 season. Rudock completed his redshirt apprenticeship.
Fast forward to 2012 camp. Rudock realizes that while the coaches can say “no job is safe,” Vandenberg is about as clear-cut No. 1 as there is on the team.
Still, Hawkeye fans can’t help but wonder if there’s someone better in the wings.
“That’s just something they kind of tell you, the public loves the back-up,” Rudock said. “For whatever reason.
“It’s Vande’s job. He’s going to do what he needs to do. We’re going to be ready anytime it comes.”
Last fall, the coaches liked Rudock enough to switch Derby to linebacker.
“That definitely means I was doing the right thing,” Rudock said. “Coach saw that.”
This offseason, Iowa brought in junior college quarterback Cody Sokol and true freshman C.J. Beathard.
“You need at least four guys, that’s just how it is,” Rudock said. “Regardless of if someone is redshirting. You never know what happens.”
A three-star prospect out of powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Rudock stayed with Iowa even when Miami came in late to kick the tires on an in-state kid.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Rudock is similar in size to Vandenberg and Ricky Stanzi, the last two quarterbacks at Iowa.
Will his ascent to starter be the more like Stanzi’s, who had to wrestle it away from Jake Christensen, or like Vandenberg, who stepped in after Stanzi graduated?
For now, Rudock is in a competition for the back-up job and trying his best to learn a new offense after spending last season trying to digest his first college playbook.
“I told all the guys in the spring it will be so much easier in August,” Iowa offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Greg Davis said. “It takes a while to get into a huddle … and make it sound right.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football