For the next five years, unless there’s a rogue wave of a QB somewhere out there (see Brad Banks), Iowa has committed to a pro-style quarterback running a pro-style offense.
This year, you have junior Jake Rudock, sophomore C.J. Beathard and senior Cody Sokol. Beyond them, there’s redshirt freshman Nic Shimonek. Next fall, Tyler Wiegers will jump into the competition. Also, Iowa has a commitment from Illinois junior QB Jack Beneventi for the ’15 class.
The six players range from 6-2 to 6-6 and none will be mistaken for a “dual-threat” quarterback, which is what Russell Wilson was and Braxton Miller is and Nebraska’s QB probably will be every year.
Wiegers is whip smart. He gave Penn a serious look and wants to be a pre-med major at the UI. He shed some light on the “pro style” topic.
“I don’t think it means ‘unathletic,’” said Wiegers, who completed 122 of 192 pass attempts for 2,093 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. “I guess a lot of that is associated with it, a guy not being able to run.
“It’s been a stereotype that’s undeserving, because there are a lot of guys who can still be athletic. I don’t see me busting a 50-yard run, but I think a pro-style guy is more of a guy who’s going to be in the pocket, managing the game and getting the ball to his playmakers, looking more to distribute the ball, get it out to the playmakers and let them make the plays than try to make a big play.”
Pro-style offense is a huge part of why and how Wiegers, ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 14 pro-style QB in this recruiting class, ended up with the Hawkeyes. He was an early commit to Rutgers before de-committing and picking the Hawkeyes in December.
“I felt like I needed to go to a place that would fit my skill set,” Wiegers said. “That was part of it. There had to be a fit with the coaches, too, but I do feel that is my main skill set. That’s something you need to look at going into college. You want to be able to get out on the field. Being in a pro-style system was definitely something I was looking at. I didn’t receive any offers from schools that weren’t pro style, except maybe a couple of MAC schools.”
Iowa is a pro-style oasis and has six pro-style QBs in the system to prove it.
Basics: Detroit Country Day (Lake Orion, Mich.), 6-4, 215, quarterback
Dent the depth chart in ’14? — Probably not. The last true freshman to factor on the QB depth chart was Drew Tate, who served as the main backup to Nathan Chandler in 2003. Tate has been it. If you consider the bodies ahead of him, it’s easy to see a redshirt coming in 2014 for Wiegers. And remember Kirk Ferentz saying last media day that three QBs would’ve had to basically unplug for then-true frosh Nic Shinonek to factor? This sets up as a year of learning for Wiegers.
Off-the-top-of-my-head Hawkeye comparison — Ricky Stanzi (We’ll see on the intangibles, but Wiegers is a big QB. Stanzi finished his Iowa career in the 6-4, 230 range. You could see Wiegers getting there. As far as skills? That’s a tougher call. Probably still similar to Stanzi. Makeup? Maybe you think of Jake Rudock. Wiegers is extremely bright and seems as though he’s a problem solver.)
ESPN.com scouting snippet — Possesses ideal height and a wiry, lean bulk build that is only going to expand. Broad shoulders and long arms — well built. Strictly a pocket performer with adequate foot quickness and pocket movement, but is not a great athlete or creative improviser. Can buy second reaction chances to get the ball out. . . . Good arm strength, not great. Very good RPMs to short and intermediate levels. Can make most, if not all the necessary college level throws. He is a hybrid big gun/touch passer who can change ball speeds. Release is quick, compact, but also a bit low. Deep ball and throws outside the numbers can lose steam. . . . Wiegers is pretty smooth and consistent in his methods. He is not a dynamic player, but a guy who, when in rhythm, can get hot and look very good. Level of competition is just average. He shows flashes of blossoming into a strong player with stature and ability to drive the ball from within the pocket.
What Iowa said . . .
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz on shopping exclusively for pro-style QBs (not so fast): “We do, but it’s not exclusive. It goes back to Brad [Banks]. Brad probably was still better in the pocket than anything else, but he had that ability to make plays with his feet. If we can find guys that can do both, we’re all for it. But we definitely want to find a guy that can throw the ball a little bit. I don’t think we’re fully ready to commit to an option-type offense, but, again, if there’s a dynamic player that’s interested in us, we’re going to look at him.”
On Wiegers specifically: “Tyler’s story is a good one. We liked him an awful lot. Last spring committed somewhere else and then opened back up. We saw his senior film. We knew a lot more about him after he had committed. We had the luxury of knowing more about him. We felt good about him prior to that and really felt good about him after his senior season. We’re excited that he came out and just thrilled that he chose to come here.”
Iowa recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson on QB depth (Iowa has it): “There have been a lot of years where we haven’t had a lot of depth. We’ve got some depth. There is going to be good competition with the guys we currently have on campus. That will allow Tyler to come in and learn the system.”
Sticking with pro style: “If you have just enough misdirection in your offense, which I think we do, you can have success. When C.J. pulls it or when Jake when he was healthy was running the football for us, there were a lot of big plays to be made out there.”
What Rivals.com said . . .
Midwest recruiting coordinator Josh Helmholdt: “He is a pro style. He’s built like a linebacker. He is an impressive-looking kid. He’ll be able to stand in the pocket and take the hits. We had him as a four-star early on because he’s done some things in 7-on-7 camp settings that really I’ve almost never seen before. I covered a national 7-on-7 tournament the summer going into his junior year. It was a national championship tournament with tons of Division I prospects. He completed 21 straight passes in that setting. That’s really phenomenal. He’s one of the most accurate passers I’ve covered in the past couple of years. He throws such a beautiful ball. With his size, I expect that he learns to put more zip on his passes. He has plenty of arm, but I think that’s an area he can improve even further. He’s very sound. Game management and seeing the field, those will be aspects he’ll want to continue to develop. He is a kid who has some really outstanding tools to work with.”
A little bit on offers sheets and how QBs go in recruiting: “He committed early, before anyone really had a chance to see him. His best performances came after that and people then discovered this kid is the real deal. We had him as a three-star until he committed to Rutgers. Then, he re-opens when quarterback recruiting is done for 90 percent of the country. It’s tough to get a read on who he is by his offers. Offer sheets aren’t reliable measures of talent because there are so many factors that go into why a school offers.”
What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .
One move that Rudock developed last fall was the ability to climb the pocket and pick his way through traffic to deliver a late pass. Wiegers does that in these highlights. That’s either instinct or coaching, I’m not sure which. Wiegers was called on to move the pocket and sometimes roll and throw (you’ve seen Iowa QBs do this often). Seemed to be a very comfortable move for him. With Iowa’s play-action game, you have to be able to throw on the run. That’s basically what separated Stanzi and Jake Christensen in 2008. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of wasted movement in his throwing motion. Very comfortable under center, another important factor for an Iowa QB. It’s a highlight video, but touch and placement do seem like strengths for Wiegers.