Quick Slants -- Spearman is a question, at least for now

Building Iowa's brand in the south; Rudock re-earning it

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April 7, 2014 | 3:06 pm

IOWA CITY -- There will be a lot of questions about Reggie Spearman. He's a true sophomore with the inside shot at weakside linebacker for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

And, yes, he's only 17 and won't turn 18 until Aug. 17. Outside linebackers coach LeVar Woods recruited Spearman, a 6-3, 230-pounder from Chicago, and he didn't even know that tidbit.

"In camp last year I found out it's going to be his birthday," Woods said Wednesday. "I'm like, 'oh, man, great, you're going to turn 18.' He said, I'm going to turn 17. I was like, 'What? You're going to turn 17?' Reggie, stop messing around.'

"Then I talked to his dad, texted his dad, and he said, 'Yeah, he's only going to be 17.' So, that's my fault. I missed that in recruiting."

Spearman played as a 17-year-old true freshman last season. He didn't see a lot of regular time, but played in third-down rush packages.

There are a lot of questions about Spearman. Iowa inside linebackers coach Jim Reid said Wednesday that no one knows for sure what will happen.

"Last year you saw him rush the passer, some in our sub packages," Reid said. "He gained some really good experience. I'm not trying to dodge the question [what Spearman can be and what it will take to get there], I just don't know."

Spearman played outside linebacker for his first two weeks at Iowa and then shifted to the inside. Reid likes that he's been attentive.

"This guy likes football. They all do, and this guy really likes it," Reid said. "He's in my office all the time. In fact they call him 'Reggie Reid.' But he's a marvelous student, and he really is working hard both physically and mentally to become a great football player, and he'll get there."

Mixing it up in recruiting

Woods handles Iowa recruiting in Dallas and Atlanta. No, these aren't traditional grounds for the University of Iowa, but the cities are one plane ride from Iowa City.

That's why Iowa is reaching out. That and the fact that there are tons of players in the south. Definitely that, too.

"Both areas are very, very, very heavily recruited for the SEC, the Big 12, the ACC," Woods said. "Every coach, every conference goes down there. It's definitely difficult to recruit there, but it's a great place to recruit as well, because there are a lot of prospects and great programs, just like there are great programs here in Iowa. It's just different trying to get kids to come up here and visit because of travel constraints."

Woods said work on building Iowa's brand continues. The Orange Bowl victory in Miami, Fla., over Georgia Tech in 2010 was a step. Last year's Outback Bowl loss to LSU in Tampa, Fla., was, at the very least, exposure.

"Just trying to make a name for ourselves, put our brand out there, having the opportunity to play an SEC team in LSU and in Tampa, that helps," Woods said. "Now, it's just getting out there and getting our face out there and getting a chance. Eventually, we'll have to pull a kid out of there, which we will do here soon, but that will hopefully open up a pipeline."

Rudock locked on re-earning it

Junior Jake Rudock is Iowa's No. 1 quarterback. Is there a competition between him and sophomore C.J. Beathard? That remains to be seen.

Rudock is on guard against complacency. He's not going coast. The pre-med major doesn't seem to have that gear.

"Coach [Kirk] Ferentz always says you have to re-earn your spot every year," said Rudock, who completed 59 percent of his passes for 18 TDs and 13 interceptions. "You can't just walk out on the field and expect to be where you were. You have to keep moving forward, you have to keep getting better each and every day."

Rudock wants to develop his decision making and pre-snap reads.

"I have to be quicker with [decision making], that's something that's always evolving," said Rudock, who says his knees [both of which were sprained at the end of last year] are fine, but does still wear a brace on his left as a precaution. "I want to come to the line and if I see something fuzzy, I want to be able to get us in a safe play where we can get something positive."

Rudock spent his spring break back home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he worked with quarterback coach Ken Mastrole, someone he's worked with since his sophomore year in high school.

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