IOWA CITY, Ia. — Will Iowa have a quarterback controversy this spring?
It didn’t sound that way Wednesday when coach Kirk Ferentz talked about the progress of starter Jake Rudock and backup C.J. Beathard.
“Jake really established himself this year,” Ferentz said. “We thought C.J. was really going to have to mount a push there, and he did preseason.
“The good news to me is, right now, we have confidence in both those guys.”
Rudock won the starting job last summer and completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,383 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Beathard, however, showed flashes of his potential. And he may have kicked off a debate with a solid backup effort in the Outback Bowl.
“They both have proven that we can win games with them,” Ferentz added. “That being said, C.J. still has some catching up to do. Jake has really accelerated.
“The one thing we didn’t know about either of the guys was their physical toughness. Jake certainly proved that. I think C.J. did too.
“It’s only fair to both of them that the best guys start.”
Practice in W.D.M.: The Hawkeyes are planning to hold another spring practice at Valley High School, tentatively scheduled for the second week in April.
Iowa held a similar event last year, giving fans in the Des Moines area a chance to see the team work out.
“We’ll have more to announce on that,” Ferentz said. “We’re excited about that, (and got) great feedback.”
Ferentz NFL rumor: Ferentz acknowledged the speculation that has swirled around his son, Brian, possibly jumping to the NFL.
Brian Ferentz, the Hawkeyes offensive line coach, was mentioned in a tweet last month by Gil Brandt of NFL.com.
Brandt had the younger Ferentz pegged to join the staff of Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien.
“With all due respect, don’t believe everything you read,” Kirk Ferentz said. “There was a tweet from a pretty official person that had him both feet down there.”
Instead, Iowa’s coaching staff remains unchanged after breaking in a combined six new assistants the previous two years.
“I’m not going to get into details of it, but I’m thrilled (Brian) is here,” Ferentz said. “I’m thrilled our whole staff stayed intact.
“You never know what’s going to happen, but I feel confident that we’ll all be together.”
One more letter: The Iowa football program received 18 letters of intent Wednesday, with another one pending.
Running back Markel Smith, from St. Louis, was snowed in at a religious retreat. He is expected to officially sign Thursday.
“Hopefully, no dog sled is going to intercept him, convince him to go somewhere else,” Ferentz said. “Hopefully, that will be our 19th signing.”
Big man on campus: Matt Nelson, a 6-foot-8, 255-pound defensive end from Cedar Rapids Xavier, is Iowa’s tallest recruit.
His height has led some to ponder a possible position switch. Some see him as an offensive lineman. Others were curious about his pass-catching skills.
“I was talking with someone who thought (Nelson) was as good a tight end prospect as they’ve had,” Ferentz said. “I could see that, but we really think he’s a good defensive end.”
Early gift: It takes time for recruits to develop, which is why Ferentz ranks the return of offensive lineman Brandon Scherff as the most important commitment for 2014. Scherff could have entered the NFL Draft, but decided in December to return as a senior.
“He didn’t get any stars, but the biggest recruit we got was Brandon Scherff,” Ferentz said. “Christmas came early. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that as a public employee.
“It was the best thing that happened to us in the recruiting season.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football