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IOWA CITY — Drew Cook’s crosstown voyage from Iowa City Regina High School to the University of Iowa came with an opportunity.
Cook, a two-time all-state quarterback and four-time state champion, has the perfect build and genetics to play tight end. He stands 6-foot-5 and weighs about 230 pounds. His father, Marv, was an All-American tight end at Iowa who became a two-time NFL Pro Bowler in a seven-year career.
But there’s an “Under Construction” sign on Cook’s family road once traveled. Cook is a quarterback and remains a quarterback. He and fellow freshman Ryan Boyle redshirted last year as third-team quarterbacks. Entering this year, Boyle shifted to wide receiver in what offensive coordinator Greg Davis calls “a one-year rental.” Cook remains as Iowa’s third-team quarterback, and he’ll have a chance to stay there this season.
“We told Drew when we were recruiting him: ‘You want to be a quarterback? We’re going to give you every opportunity,’” said Davis, who also serves as Iowa’s quarterback coach. “We’re encouraged from this. If you’re not a quarterback, then you’ll probably end up big enough to be a tight end some point. We want to give him every opportunity to be a quarterback.”
Cook, 19, helped Regina win every state title in his high school career. At one point the Regals won 56 consecutive games and their only loss came by one point to rival Solon. In his senior year, Cook passed for 31 touchdowns, rushed for 16 and caught three. Regina, with Marv Cook as the head coach, won every playoff game but one by at least 38 points.
This year, there’s little chance of upward mobility for Drew Cook with senior C.J. Beathard as the returning starter. Tyler Wiegers, a sophomore, solidly sits at No. 2. True freshman Nathan Stanley likely will redshirt this season. Should everyone stay healthy, Cook will continue to grow at quarterback with little pressure.
“Drew is extremely bright,” Davis said. “He’s extremely mature. One of those things when freshmen come in, this is the general rule: they act like freshmen. Drew didn’t. He didn’t in the classroom, he didn’t in our classroom. He always had a maturity about him. As he is maturing into his body, he’s throwing the ball better.”
Down 2017 highway, however, the clock will start ticking on Cook’s career. Next spring with Beathard’s graduation, competition will accelerate for the starting position. Wiegers is the default candidate in the spring, but Cook, Stanley and Boyle will have a shot. Should Cook fall behind Stanley, Boyle or 2017 recruit Peyton Mansell (who cannot sign until February) and sit no better than third, it might be time to look toward tight end.
But that day hasn’t come, if it ever does.
“All that is hypothetical,” Davis said. “I know this: I’m glad he’s on our team. I think wherever he ends up graduating as whatever he is, we’ll be proud of him. We’ll let it play itself out.”
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