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Drew Cook managing high expectations, goals

[ 0 ] July 26, 2014 |
A 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior-to-be at football powerhouse Regina, Cook is one of three high school quarterbacks in Iowa’s 2015 recruiting class. The others are Jack Beneventi, who is from suburban Chicago, and Ryan Boyle, who led West Des Moines Dowling to the Class 4A state title and a 14-0 record last season. (David Scrivner/HawkCentral)

A 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior-to-be at football powerhouse Regina, Cook is one of three high school quarterbacks in Iowa’s 2015 recruiting class. The others are Jack Beneventi, who is from suburban Chicago, and Ryan Boyle, who led West Des Moines Dowling to the Class 4A state title and a 14-0 record last season. (David Scrivner/HawkCentral)

Unlike many of his peers, Drew Cook isn’t on Twitter.

He has a cell phone, but his life doesn’t revolve around it.

Cook is old-fashioned when it comes to gathering information, but he still manages to keep up on the latest hype, including what’s being said about him as an Iowa football recruit.

Cook knows that some fans already have his future as an Iowa Hawkeye all figured out.

Some even tell him face to face that he won’t play quarterback for the Hawkeyes.

“They just say Iowa already has two (quarterbacks),” Cook said. “It’s not that big of a deal. But it’s motivation.”

“Every morning I wake up knowing people already had written me off. And so that’s just what makes me go that 30 extra seconds when I’m doing quick foot work and that’s what makes me get five extra throws.”

A 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior-to-be at football powerhouse Regina, Cook is one of three high school quarterbacks in Iowa’s 2015 recruiting class. The others are Jack Beneventi, who is from suburban Chicago, and Ryan Boyle, who led West Des Moines Dowling to the Class 4A state title and a 14-0 record last season.

The 6-6 Beneventi was the first of the three quarterbacks to commit to Iowa in early December. Boyle and Cook both were offered scholarships at approximately the same time in mid-February. Cook, who also led Regina to a 14-0 record en route to winning the Class 2A state title, committed on the spot, but didn’t go public with his decision until Feb. 27, after his high school basketball season had ended.

Boyle then committed to Iowa on March 26, giving Iowa three quarterbacks among its first six verbal commitments in the 2015 class. The class has since grown to 12 verbal commitments with tight end Nate Vejvoda announcing his commitment to Iowa on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

Speculation about the future of each of the three quarterbacks also has grown because it’s rare to have two quarterbacks in the same recruiting class, let alone three.

Neither Beneventi nor Boyle responded to a text message request for an interview. Cook has become better acquainted with both of his fellow quarterback recruits since committing and senses no resentment from either.

“When I’ve talked to them, they seem like great guys,” Cook said of Beneventi and Boyle. “Whenever we talk with each other, it’s not weird. We just have laid-back, chilled conversations.”

Some Iowa fans are reluctant to believe that Cook will stay at quarterback, thinking that he ultimately will switch to tight end. That’s based partly on Beneventi and Boyle being in the same recruiting class, but also because of Cook’s athleticism and bloodlines.

Cook is the son of former Iowa all-America tight end and NFL all-Pro Marv Cook. He also plays football for his father at Regina, which has won a state-record 56 consecutive games, a streak that stretches over the past four seasons.

“I’ve preached this a lot and I’ve always said my dad has done some great things in his life, including here at Iowa,” Drew Cook said. “But my focus is to go that extra mile and work harder to make that mark in my life.”

Drew Cook is determined to follow in his father’s footsteps with regard to being a Hawkeye. Drew started hearing from some elite programs, including Standord, after he was ranked among the top 300 players in the 2015 class by ESPN.

But he never wavered on his commitment.

“From the time I was a little kid, I’ve always been watching the Hawks,” Drew Cook said. “And whenever Back in Black starts blaring (before an Iowa football game) the goose bumps get all over.”

Marv Cook’s focus, besides trying to win another state title with his son leading the way, is for Drew to be happy while pursuing his goals. Marv wants Drew to be his own person and to carve his own legacy. And if that means wanting to play quarterback for the Hawkeyes, then so be it.

“As a father and a coach, you just want to see how great they can be as a student, a friend, a son, a football player or whatever it is,” Marv Cook said. “You want to them to be able to accomplish their dreams and aspirations.

“So that’s all that my wife and I can could ask for; that he pursues that, gives everything he has to it and commits himself to it. And when you do that, you can always live with the consequences and the results.”

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is willing to let Drew Cook start his career from behind center.

“He said, ‘We’d like to see how you progress as a quarterback and we’ll start you there and we’ll see where if goes from there,’” Drew Cook said of Ferentz.

Marv Cook believes the best way for his son to evolve as a quarterback is to live in the moment and to seize each opportunity that comes his way. Marv also believes that Drew owes it to Regina to focus on the now instead of his future as a Hawkeye.

“The one thing is, we’ll emphasize that we have an interesting dynamic here at Regina with certain things going on,” Marv Cook said. “The focus is going to be on today. And if you want to be great three months from now, you need to start preparing to be great today and every day. His focus needs to be on that.”

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is willing to let Drew Cook start his career from behind center. “He said, ‘We’d like to see how you progress as a quarterback and we’ll start you there and we’ll see where if goes from there,’” Drew Cook, pictured, said of Ferentz. (HawkCentral file photo)

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is willing to let Drew Cook start his career from behind center.
“He said, ‘We’d like to see how you progress as a quarterback and we’ll start you there and we’ll see where if goes from there,’” Drew Cook, pictured, said of Ferentz. (HawkCentral file photo)

Marv Cook was a standout quarterback at West Branch High School almost 30 years ago. But Marv wasn’t as determined to play quarterback in college as Drew is now. It didn’t take much convincing to get Marv to switch to tight end after he became a Hawkeye.

The move, obviously, paid huge dividends considering Marv Cook’s success as a tight end. However, Marv said his son’s situation is different because Marv thinks that Drew has more upside than he did as a quarterback at the same age.

“He’s taller,” Marv Cook said. “He’s more explosive. He’s more naturally gifted, as far as movement. He’s faster.”

“He’s a student of the game. He’s 6-5 and 220 (pounds) and can run. He’s long. He’s got a little burst to him, so he can extend plays with his feet.”

One of Drew Cook’s goals this summer is to run faster than 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

“I’m really close,” he said.

It’s rare for an Iowa quarterback to run the 40 in the 4.6-second range, especially one with Cook’s size.

Drew Cook often relies on his speed to make an impact on the field.

“I would describe my style as I am a drop-back quarterback and I like slinging it in the pocket,” Drew Cook said. “But if I have to move, I’ll move, and I like using my legs to make plays.”

One of the knocks on Drew Cook, besides the competition that he faces in Class 2A, is that his throwing mechanics are flawed. However, Drew worked on his throwing motion with former Iowa all-America quarterback Chuck Long on two occasions this summer.

“He certainly has the tools,” said Long, who finished runner-up for the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 1985. “He had a little hitch in his motion and I think we got that ironed out. But a lot of high school kids have that. So he really has some tools. He has a strong enough arm. He’s big enough.

“It’s all going to be dependent on how he reads coverages and how much he studies the game, because that’s what creates the timing and just the knowledge of defenses and then that creates timing and anticipation. That will be the big key for him.”

Drew Cook is amazed at how much he learned from Long, who played six seasons in the NFL before coaching at the collegiate level from 1995 to 2011.

“Coach Long has been great,” Drew Cook said. “What he’s done is he’s helped me clean up my motion, and we’ve really been focusing on the small things that make a big difference in making you a great quarterback. So we’ve really been focusing on footwork and some stuff with my throwing motion.

“Actually, he says footwork is what throws the ball. If you have good footwork, it’s going to put the ball where you want it to go.”

Drew Cook’s status as a football player has changed dramatically over the past 11 months. At this time last year, he hadn’t started a high school football game or given much thought about his plans for college.

Cook now has 14 starts under his belt as the quarterback for Regina. He finished with approximately 3,000 total yards as a junior last season, earning first-team all-state accolades.

“It’s been a crazy year, that’s for sure, just with everything that’s happened,” Drew Cook said. “It’s been great for me. I’ve had a great year. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I’m at right now and I’m just real thankful and blessed for the year I’ve had.”

Marv Cook said his son is still far from being a finished product as a quarterback. Drew barely played in the second half of several of Regina’s games last season because the score was so lopsided. Drew is still learning the position and is still growing physically, which presents some challenges.

“He still needs to see a lot more and grasp it,” Marv Cook said. “He’s still maturing.

“I talk to my wife a lot about it. It’s like every two weeks you have to re-teach something because he has a new mechanical deal because he’s getting longer or filling out. So he’s changing.”

Long’s advice to Drew Cook is to ignore the naysayers. Long used former NFL all-Pro quarterback Jim Kelly as an example of somebody who overcame a perception to thrive as a quarterback, including having a standout career at Miami (Fla).

“I remember a guy named Jim Kelly coming out of high school and everybody recruited him as a linebacker,” Long said. “And he’s a great analogy because he’s a big strong guy and everybody, Joe Paterno included, wanted him to play linebacker.

“And he wanted to play quarterback and went down to Miami, and look what happened.”

Long is optimistic about Drew Cook’s potential as a Hawkeye quarterback. But Long also believes that Cook could star as a tight end because of his athleticism and work ethic.

“I think he personally has a great future because he works at it,” Long said. “You can just tell being around him that he likes to work. He has some very good intangibles right off the bat in size and strength.”

“It just gets down to how he studies the game. That would be the most important aspect for him.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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