Feb. 1, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Jake Rudock introduces himself to every offensive lineman recruit that visits the University of Iowa. After all, they will have his back in the near future.
Rudock is a quarterback from Weston, Fla., who redshirted during the 2011 season. National Signing Day is today (Wednesday, Feb. 1) and the college recruiting process is still fresh in his mind. Rudock made a verbal commitment to the Hawkeyes in July, 2010, then led his St. Thomas Aquinas High School team to the Florida Class 7A state championship. As a prep, he completed 64 percent of his passes for 5,082 yards and 73 touchdowns.
Rudock admits he doesn't stay closely abreast to the current recruiting chatter, but he relishes an intermittent bit of good news.
"I try to meet every single offensive lineman that comes in for a visit," Rudock said. "You definitely love to hear, `Alright, we're getting you some good protection.' Those are words a quarterback loves to hear."
More than 20 high school student-athletes will sign National Letters of Intent to play football for the Hawkeyes next season. Some of them -- like Rudock -- will spend the first year collecting knowledge of their position and adding muscle to their teenage frames.
"From the learning aspect of the game, I know so much more now than I did (in high school)," Rudock said of his first season as a Hawkeye. "Athletically and strength-wise, coach (Chris) Doyle and his staff have done a great job helping me gain weight and getting ready to play. Now I know the game more than I ever have in my life."
While James Vandenberg was throwing for 3,022 yards and 25 touchdowns and leading Iowa to its 11th consecutive season of bowl eligibility, Rudock, a pre-medicine major, was soaking everything in.
"The coaches and the other players that we have here are all hard-working. Everybody wants to get better and always puts the team first. It's never about one individual person -- that's something coach (Kirk) Ferentz does a wonderful job with. Football is one of the greatest team sports on the planet because you can't win with one guy -- you need all 11 on both sides of the ball and special teams."
UI freshman quarterback
As a high school prospect, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Rudock went on two Midwest recruiting "tours" of 3-4 schools each time. His only official visit was to Iowa, where he watched the Hawkeyes dominate Iowa State, 35-7, on Sept. 11, 2010. The family atmosphere sold him on the UI.
"The coaches and the other players that we have here are all hard-working," Rudock said. "Everybody wants to get better and always puts the team first. It's never about one individual person -- that's something coach (Kirk) Ferentz does a wonderful job with. Football is one of the greatest team sports on the planet because you can't win with one guy -- you need all 11 on both sides of the ball and special teams."
Rudock says time management is the biggest area of adjustment for the recruits when they arrive on campus in the summer. With morning workouts, class, practice and meetings, it's paramount to budget the free moments and hit the books.
"You have to know when to go to the learning center or library, or just go to your desk and do your schoolwork," Rudock said.
Few in this Iowa National Signing Day Class will have the academic demands of Rudock, whose future plans include medical school. That is another reason why spending a season as a redshirt was a good idea.
"It turned out that redshirting would be best in the long run so we did that," Rudock said. "It worked out great since my workload for the next five years can be a little bit easier than it would have been for four years because of my major."
At least four offensive linemen are expected to sign with the Hawkeyes today, as well as one quarterback who joins junior college transfer Cody Sokol, another quarterback who enrolled at the UI in January. Rudock welcomes the direct competition, primarily because of the Hawkeyes-first mentality.
"You think of it as a need for the team," Rudock said. "It's not an attack against you. It's a numbers game, it's nothing personal. Quarterback is one of those positions where you could get knocked out of the game in one play, so you need someone behind you."
Climate is another selling point that lured Rudock to Iowa. He is proof that not all Floridians yearn for 80 degree temperatures during the winter.
"You get used to the weather like everybody else has to get used to it every year," Rudock said. "I went home after the Insight Bowl and the weather there was a nice break, a nice vacation. But then I started looking forward to cooler weather. I've adjusted well."
Rudock and the newest collection of Hawkeyes open the 2012 season Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois in Chicago's Soldier Field.