IOWA CITY — The Iowa quarterback might’ve just used the term “spectrometry.” He definitely broke down something in regard to his organic chemistry II class.
“That’s dealing with certain organic compounds and if they are an ‘L’ configuration,” the sophomore said. “Say you’re talking about medicine, it comes with two stereoisomers, so that’s two different types of the same compound, same elements and everything, but has a slightly different spin on it.”
“If you were to throw it in a vacuum and attack it with an electron laser, so if you have RL or all L’s, that would be healthy. That would be good for you to consume. The R or the L could be completely different.”
OK, that’s probably enough.
Rudock, a 6-3, 205-pound sophomore from Weston, Fla., wants to be a pediatric cardiologist. That will take a few more electron laser attacks in a vacuum. Right now, he is Iowa’s starting quarterback.
Northern Illinois won’t have stereoisomers, but the Huskies will have linebackers and defense and stuff. The Mid-American Conference school will try to plant the regular kind of “L” on Rudock and the Hawkeyes in his debut today at Kinnick Stadium.
Rudock calmly walked a media gathering from around the state through a technical element of his organic chem class. He didn’t blink. His thoughts didn’t wander. If he was winging in, it certainly didn’t look like it.
Composure has been the “flexible connector” — org chem term — through Rudock’s football career.
He played at the highly competitive St. Thomas Aquinas program in Fort Lauderdale. His senior year, Aquinas traveled to Cowboys Stadium in Dallas to play Skyline High School. He also quarterbacked Aquinas past Camden County (Ga.) in a road game at Kingsland, Ga. The game also was televised. When Aquinas won, Rudock improved to 4-0 in nationally televised games . . . as a high schooler.
“He was always composed. He never lost his composure,” said Aquinas offensive coordinator Bryan Baucom. “He was always the same no matter how good or how bad things were going.”
Ken Masterole, who runs Masterole Passing Academy based in Fort Lauderdale, has worked with Rudock since he was a sophomore at Aquinas, when Rudock was a backup who broke into the starting lineup with a jammed finger and still won a game.
You’ll notice an echo.
“He’s a ‘no panic’ kind of personality,” Masterole said. “He’s a very confident, strong-minded kid. He has an inner confidence that gives him an ‘it’ factor.”
The org chem and pediatric cardiologist elements tell you about Rudock’s brains. It was perhaps the thing that carried Rudock through a three-man competition through camp. He was named starter last week with redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard being named No. 2 and junior Cody Sokol the third.
“There’s so much more to the job than just throwing the ball out there,” running back Mark Weisman said. “It’s reads, checks in the running game. It’s beyond belief how much a quarterback has to know. It’s every little thing. I have one thing to remember in a play, whether it’s running or passing. He has to know what everyone else is doing. It’s a big deal.”
The brains are a natural and nurtured gift. Rudock comes from a long line of analytical minds. His father, Bob, is a lawyer. His oldest brother is in the second year of his medical residency, specializing in pediatric neurology. His sister graduated from Florida State with a master’s degree. His mom, Kathy, a second-grade teacher, also has a master’s degree.
Rudock has constantly refined the football part of his life. He dropped in for a short workout with Masterole in late July, just before camp. The topic was mechanics. The two still talk and text, with the concentration being a positive mental outlook.
“He’s not flashy, but he makes the throws,” Masterole said. “He doesn’t let things get bigger than they are. He doesn’t have a panic button.”
He’s also never taken a snap as a Hawkeye and he hasn’t played in a game with a scoreboard since 2010. You don’t explain ”spectrometry” in front of the state’s media without the kind of poise that comes with having put in the work.
Rudock has put in the work at quarterback.
“You can never be too refined,” Rudock said. “Tom Brady, his thing is every single throw has a meaning to it. You can’t ever be too refined. You have to keep working and working. Let’s face it, unless you complete every single pass and put them in the tightest windows, there are going to be things to correct.”
The stereoisomers will be here today. They will be under facemasks and wearing jerseys. This is not a test.