Jake Rudock did not draw a lot of oohs and aahs Sunday afternoon.
Then again, he didn’t cause the crowd at Valley Stadium to groan, either. And in the scramble to be Iowa’s starting quarterback, that makes Rudock the front-runner.
“At this point, it’s early to try and predict,” Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said of the three-man battle. “And we’re not going to. We’ll let the guys continue to compete.”
An estimated 8,000 fans showed up for the first-ever Iowa football practice in West Des Moines — despite threatening skies — and attention quickly turned toward Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard.
None of them has ever taken a snap for the Hawkeyes.
“A lot of the other positions are pretty proven, or at least have some of the guys coming back,” said Matt Probasco, a former Iowa student now living in West Des Moines. “The quarterback is the one undetermined variable.”
Barb Coffie was sizing up the candidates with her 9-year-old grandson.
“I’m curious as to which one,” she said. “Just trying to see which one is the best.”
Ferentz eased his quarterbacks into the spotlight, rotating them every two plays.
“That’s what we’ve done in every drill, since we got started,” Ferentz said. “As a result of that, all three of them are working with the first group, second group and the third group.
“So, it’s not like anybody is going to have an advantage that way.”
They opened Sunday with warmups, then went into seven-on-seven mode.
Beathard, a freshman from Tennessee, showed promise. He threw a nice ball and looked smooth when rolling out of the pocket.
Of course, nobody was going to hit him once the scrimmage started.
It’ll be much more telling when the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Beathard (most media types feel that listing is a tad generous) faces a real pass rush.
Sokol, a transfer from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College, rifled passes into the heart of the defense. He was also victimized by a couple of drops.
There also seems to be a hitch in Sokol’s throwing motion.
“I think I’ve had a good spring, so far,” he said. “Still need to keep improving, keep getting better.
“I think I’ve done well, so far.”
Maybe not as well as Rudock, however.
Evaluating quarterbacks in the spring is like buying fool’s gold. But from field level, the sophomore from Florida seemed to have the best grasp of Iowa’s offense.
Rudock, last year’s backup to James Vandenberg, threw a couple of touchdowns in the red zone. He got out of the way after handing off to Mark Weisman, and made sure C.J. Fiedorowicz was a favorite target.
“I think the quarterbacks did a very good job today,” Fiedorowicz said. “It’s a good competition between the three.”
Was Rudock flashy? No.
Did he look like the sort of quarterback Ferentz would be comfortable with? Absolutely.
“Jake still has the best handle on things, for obvious reasons,” Ferentz said, referring to Rudock’s status as the No. 2 quarterback last season. “But we’ll probably let it go throughout the whole spring.
“Certainly, the next three practices, we’ll just kind of keep doing it like we’re doing it.”
Andrew Logue has been with the Des Moines Register for 17 years, covering Hawkeye, Cyclone, Panther and Bulldog sports. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewMLogue.