No. 12 -- QB Cody Sokol

The former Fighting Artichoke is a gamer and that might be enough

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Here is the website for the school where Iowa junior Cody Sokol made a name for himself:

Former Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe found Sokol in Arizona at Scottsdale Community College, home of the Fighting Artichokes. Artichokes are supposed to be really, really good for you. It remains to be seen if this one will be good for the Hawkeyes.

Sokol (6-2, 215) was very good for the Artichokes. Sokol threw for 3,807 yards, 43 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He earned first team all-region, first team all-conference and second team all-America. In 2011, Last season, Sokol broke former SCC quarterback Tim Rattay’s single-game passing records with 542 yards and seven touchdowns. Rattay went on from SCC to star at Louisiana Tech and play in the NFL.

“I still have some gear at home, I still sport the Artichokes,” Sokol said with a laugh. “It is kind of funny. I think it was great mascot. People didn’t take us seriously because of our logo, but I liked it. We went out there and won some games.”

Iowa’s pro-style offense attracted Sokol. Yes, his numbers at Scottsdale last season suggest “sling it,” but he knows pro style is what would give him the best chance to play in the NFL.

“We were air raid and shotgun, not a whole lot of play action,” Sokol said. “I like to throw the ball. I feel like I can make plays with my feet, but I want to pass.”

Iowa looked at Sokol when he was a senior at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix. He ended up going junior college after suffering a a broken foot the third game of his senior season.

“I was a player who needed to show schools some good senior film,” Sokol said. “Missing those first three games hurt me, so Scottsdale knew I had some interest from big schools and offered me a full ride.”

Now, can Sokol be more than a bridge to a gap in QB classes (the competition for No. 1 this season is Sokol, sophomore Jake Rudock, redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard and true freshman Nic Shimonek)?

Key 2012 factor: One of the more interesting tidbits that Sokol dropped this spring was the fact that he and Rudock shared the No. 2 gig behind James Vandenberg in 2012.

Perhaps that says more than anything why Vandenberg was stapled under center last season. Rudock wasn't quite ready. Sokol had a redshirt pinned on him.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an advantage [being immersed in the offense last season],” Sokol said. “It’s all new. It’s a new offense. This is the first time in the spring that we’ve been able to repeat what we’ve started. Everyone is kind of coming in fresh with a better understanding.”

Offseason factor: Sokol drilled on the nuances of offensive coordinator Greg Davis' offense this spring. Part of that was the installation of the zone-read run. Iowa has shown it in the past, with QBs handing off to the running back nearly every time.

Davis hopes there's an element of surprise with three drop-back quarterbacks (Davis nodded when asked if this was a fair label for his three QBs) perhaps running the zone read.

"We have implemented a little bit of zone read, but it won’t be a huge part," Davis said. "It’s a part that is aggravating to the defense. . . . Colt McCoy, he was a drop-back guy, yet he could run three or four, five a game and create some explosive plays.  Not only that, but create some assignment football by the defense.

"Just the fact that you have some of that forces the defense to play more assignment football."

Competition: You know the competition. Here's the post on Beathard. Is No. 29 too high or too low for him? Remains to be seen, obviously. Rudock is yet to come on this list.

Davis was asked the roles decision making and quick feet will have in who wins the job.

"Decision making is always a part of the quarterback position," Davis said. "Then, guys that can extend plays. Coach [the late Bill] Walsh told me 15 years ago, I asked him about drafting quarterbacks, and he said 50 percent of the snaps in the NFL are not the way you draw them up. Somebody is sliding in the pocket, you’re not on the rhythm that the play is designed. So, the ability for a quarterback to extend the play, to make things happen off schedule is a huge part."

In the limited viewing, I've liked Sokol's gamer mentality. He tries to make things happen. And thus, I wonder about his decision making (threw at least one up for grabs late over the middle during the spring game).

Why No. 12?: If Sokol is not the No. 1 QB, he's the No. 2 QB. And even if he's the No. 2, he'll always have a shot at No. 1. (Fitting three QBs in the Top 45 knocked some pretty good names off the list.)

Outlook: Here's an example of the decision making.

I asked Sokol after the spring game at Kinnick if there was one thing he wanted to have back. I give him credit for being honest.

"There was an audible down here in the red zone," said Sokol, who completed 13 of 18 for 183 yards and a TD during the spring game. "I think we were on the 10 or 15. It was a chance to score. I had an audible to pass or run. I audibled to the run and they brought a blitz. That's something I wish I could have back, because I could've hit a receiver."

If Sokol locks in on the nuance, the higher-level QB thinking, he might be the guy.

Click here for an interactive look at the complete Top 45 series.

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