Jake Waters’ rise to stardom as a junior-college quarterback is hardly news to the Iowa football coaches.
The Iowa staff has known about Waters since he was a star at St. Albert High School in Council Bluffs.
They’ve kept tabs on the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Waters throughout his two seasons at Iowa Western Community College, but haven’t offered him a scholarship.
That normally wouldn’t be a big deal because Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz rarely recruits junior-college players, although, he has landed three junior-college quarterbacks, the most recent being Cody Sokol last winter.
What makes Waters’ situation a big deal is the schools that have offered him a scholarship, a growing list that already includes Penn State, Kansas State, North Carolina State, Florida-Atlantic and possibly soon top-ranked and defending national-champion Alabama.
It’s also interesting because Waters is supposedly a dual-threat quarterback in the truest sense, which some Iowa fans are clamoring for with senior pro-style quarterback James Vandenberg struggling heading into Saturday’s game at Northwestern.
Waters isn’t waiting around for Iowa or Iowa State to offer him a scholarship. And why should he with his current list of offers?
But it’s probably fair to say that Waters would appreciate if Iowa and Iowa State both joined the list. It’s sort of a pride thing with the home-state schools.
“I think anyone of my Iowa kids would like to stay in the state if that was an option,” said Iowa Western head coach Scott Strohmeier.
That it’s not an option for Waters is surprising, or at least interesting, considering the circumstances.
Waters is completing 74 percent of his passes and he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds according to Strohmeier.
Throw in the fact that Waters has decent size, was an academic qualifier coming out of high school and has a 3.5 grade-point average in junior college and he would seem to be the total package.
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, whose teams demolished Iowa 38-14 last Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, apparently thinks so, as does Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, whose team is undefeated and led by who many feel is the frontrunner for the 2012 Heisman Trophy in dual-threat quarterback Collin Klein.
It’s hard to really know how the Iowa coaches feel about Waters because NCAA rules prohibit them from talking about a specific recruit before the recruit has signed a letter of intent.
Strohmeier also declined to make Waters available for this article because of the nature of the topic.
O’Brien watched a video of Waters recently, and within a few days, O’Brien offered him a scholarship.
Strohmeier said O’Brien sees many similarities between Waters and Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin, who torched Iowa for 289 passing yards and two touchdowns last Saturday.
“Now Jake is more athletic than McGloin, I think,” Strohmeier said. “But I think they see a lot of similarities between the two. I think what they like about Jake is he’s a smart football player, he understands the game.”
An assistant coach from Alabama also watched a video clip of Waters, and now Waters is reportedly on Alabama’s lofty radar.
“In their case, I don’t know where that interest lies,” Strohmeier said of Alabama. “We sent out the film and one of their assistants has contacted us back.
“So that doesn’t mean they’re going to offer a quarterback, but they’ve looked at it.”
Akron was the first school to offer Waters a scholarship over the summer.
Kansas State made its offer about a month ago, but a relationship had been developing for a while.
“Kansas State has probably been the one that’s recruited him the hardest,” Strohmeier said. “He took an unofficial visit there this summer.
“He’s been on their radar. They were just waiting through the season to evaluate him more.”
As for Iowa and Iowa State, the wait still continues.
Waters has performed so well this season for the top-ranked junior-college team in the country, including throwing 29 touchdown passes and just three interceptions, that it wouldn’t surprise Strohmeier if Iowa or Iowa State eventually made an offer.
“To be honest with you, we’ve heard the same thing from Iowa State because they were not taking (a quarterback), but they’re going to look into it,” Strohmeier said. “Both of them are well aware and they know that if they were able to take one, they would have pulled the trigger probably in the spring time. It’s just one of those deals.”
Strohmeier isn’t sure how the change at offensive coordinator at Iowa will affect Waters’ recruitment. Ken O’Keefe was the Iowa offensive coordinator when Sokol signed with the Hawkeyes out of junior college last winter.
O’Keefe has since been replaced by Greg Davis, who was instrumental in getting Texas high school quarterback Nic Shimonek to commit to Iowa this past spring. Shimonek is among 15 players in Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class. It’s believed that Iowa will add at least five more players to the class, but whether it’ll include another quarterback remains to be seen.
Landing a running back is a priority for the Iowa coaches at this stage because there are none in the 2013 recruiting class. That helps explain why Iowa recently extended a scholarship offer to running back Aaron Wimberly, who plays with Waters at Iowa Western.
Waters is a third-year sophomore and will only have two seasons of eligibility after being redshirted as a true freshman.
“In fairness to their staff, they knew about Jake in high school,” Strohmeier said of the Iowa coaches. “They knew he was here after his freshman year. And they knew he was here this year. But the other thing is, last year they had a different offensive coordinator and ended up going with the Sokol kid.
“They looked at Jake and they evaluated Jake thoroughly and for whatever reason at that time the quarterback coach went in a different direction. I think maybe if they had a scholarship…I think they’ve thought about it and they’ve really looked at it.”
The issue here is that some Iowa fans will wonder why more successful programs such as Kansas State and Penn State believed in Waters enough to offer him a scholarship, whereas the Iowa coaches don’t at this stage.
They’ll wonder why a recruit with Waters’ credentials and with his ties to the state is being passed over by an Iowa program that’s struggling at the quarterback position.
In this case, it’s hard not wonder, especially after watching Penn State thump Iowa.
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football