Central Florida vs. South Florida . . . on a field in Iowa

FLA natives Richardson, Rudock will have a chance to finally meet

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March 28, 2014 | 8:23 pm

AMES -- Hey, both of the quarterbacks in the Iowa-Iowa State game are from Florida. So, of course, that begs the question.

Do you know him?

"Not at all," said Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardson, who his senior year in 2010 at Winter Park High School was named Central Florida Offensive Player of the Year by Orlando Touchdown Club.

"Winter Park? That's in like central Florida. That's not in my area," said Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock, who as a senior in 2010 at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale was named Broward County Player of the Year, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's and the South Florida High School Football Show's South Florida Player of the Year.

Richardson and Rudock graduated from Florida High Schools 229 miles apart in 2010. It's nearly a four-hour drive from Winter Park, near Orlando, to Fort Lauderdale, a Miami suburb.

Run into him at any camps?

"Nope, none at all," Richardson said.

"I don't think so," Rudock said.

The third-year sophomores will shake hands at some point tonight.

Richardson will make his fourth career start tonight when he leads the Cyclones (0-1) against the Hawkeyes (1-1) and Rudock, who'll be making his first road start. Richardson (6-2, 205) led Winter Park to an undefeated regular season and made the state regional semifinals. Rudock pushed St. Thomas Aquinas to a 15-0 mark, a Class 5A regional state championship and mythical prep national championship.

"I know he went to a pretty good high school program down there in Florida, St. Thomas, and that's about all I know about him," said Richardson, who's looking for his first career victory as a starter (he did lead ISU to a win at Kansas in relief of Steele Jantz last year). "A lot of good athletes down there."

Yes, Rudock and St. Thomas Aquinas went 4-0 on national TV when he was a senior. Rudock passed for 2,827 yards and 36 touchdowns that season. Richardson wasn't far behind that at Winter Park. He set the program record for passing yards (2,742) and touchdown passes (34).

"It'll be fun having a Florida guy out there," Rudock said. "Some teams we play, I have old teammates. You look on the roster and see he's from Florida, it's cool."

St. Thomas has profile. Iowa State lists 26 Floridians on its roster, and so coach Paul Rhoads knows about St. Thomas.

"He comes from such a tremendous high school program, maybe as good as there is in the high school ranks across the country," Rhoads said. "He knows what big games are all about. He knows what pressure is."

You can't really gauge it, but maybe St. Thomas boosted Rudock's recruiting prospects. Rivals.com rated both as three-star recruits. Rudock received offers from Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota with hometown Miami (Fla.) making a late-January run. Richardson earned his scholarship offers (Tulane, Middle Tennessee and North Texas) after a 44-1 record in organized 7-on-7 tournaments the summer before his senior year.

Richardson committed to Iowa State on Aug. 18, 2010, a day after cornerback Sam E. Richardson, from League City, Texas, committed to the Cyclones.

"The coaches thought it was funny, too," Richardson told the Orlando Sentinel when he committed.

Rudock's prep profile didn't launch his career at Iowa. He watched Iowa's passing offense produce seven TD passes last season and didn't play a snap. No, he didn't enjoy not playing, but, if nothing else, that has put a competitive glint in his first steps as starter.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz's anecdote on Rudock involves an unofficial visit he took to Iowa City in June 2010. It was high school senior camp season at the UI. Rudock had a scholarship offer, but still went out and competed in the camp.

"He didn't come here with his resume hanging off his shirt or any of that stuff," Ferentz said. "He's really handled himself well, and because of that, our players have a lot of respect for him and the coaches do, too. He operates the way you would hope a young guy would."

Richardson passed a toughness test in the Cyclones' opener against Northern Iowa. In 28-20 defeat, Richardson still managed 316 yards total offense, threw two TD passes and led ISU with 74 rushing yards. At some point during the UNI game, Richardson also suffered a sprained ankle. He spent much of last week, an ISU off week, in a immobilizing boot. He's practiced this week and will play tonight.

Northern Iowa sacked Richardson six times, a fact that made O-lineman Ethan Tuftee wince.

"He's not only a teammate, but he's a good friend," Tuftee said. "We have to protect him. As badly as it makes us feel, he pops back up pretty quickly. He doesn't dwell on it. He's a tough cat and he's pretty resilient. He's a good football player, too."

So, here's what it is tonight: It's the Orlando Touchdown Club's Central Florida Offensive Player of the Year against the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's and the South Florida High School Football Show's South Florida Player of the Year.

On a field in Iowa. For the Cy-Hawk Trophy. Sometimes randomness can be pretty random.

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