I wasn’t going to get to what we used to call “Croot Loops.” Now, it’s SEO’d up with the clumsy, but search-engine friendly “Iowa football recruiting 2020.” For some of us, with a glint of “let’s not take ourselves too seriously” in the eye, let’s keep “Croot Loops” in just so we know exactly where to find kind of what I consider the “intro” for prospects.
We start today with quarterback. We have some time on our hands (talking about a “when” is pointless right now, but I like where ESPN’s Chris Fowler’s head is at on this, February makes sense with timing on a COVID-19 vaccine), so let’s get to know croots.
(By the way, this is going to come from a “optim-listic” point of view. What’s the high side? What’s realistic? There’s no reason to be pessimistic right now, not in the world, not in these guys’ careers.)
Quarterback Deuce Hogan committed to the Hawkeyes in June 2018. When a QB commits that early, it’s 1) awesome for the program he committed to and 2) a little bit nerve wracking for the program he committed to.
Congrats, you got the No. 1 QB on your board. Sorry, the college football world has now made you a target.
There was that time that Georgia wanted to land a helicopter at Faith Christian in Grapevine, Texas, you know, before one of Hogan’s practices. Who wouldn’t be swayed by watching a helicopter landing? (What exactly does that have to do with football? I think it’s more fishing for the shallow in the shallows.)
“You get to know some of these kids and obviously you’re going to worry about it,” Iowa recruiting director Tyler Barnes said. “But then, some of these kids just have an ease about them. Maybe the good thing about a December signing period is it isn’t as crazy as it once was, in terms of stuff grown men would do to flip recruits.”
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So, Iowa got its QB for 2020 super early. From there, Hogan (6-4, 200) became a peer recruiter for Iowa, helping land a few other prospects, including Texas tight end Elijah Yelverton.
Things looked great for Iowa when Hogan left Iowa City after his first unofficial visit.
“(Quarterbacks coach Ken) Coach O’Keefe was like, ‘I just got off the phone with Deuce, I think he’s going to commit,’” Barnes said. “I was like, ‘HA, Ha, coach, funny. Hilarious. Especially this early. Sure enough, two weeks later, he ends up doing it.”
Most interesting thing from hawkeyesports.com bio: Holds school records for career wins, touchdowns, yards, and completions. Hogan threw for 8,192 yards and completed 52.8 percent of his pass attempts, with 100 career touchdown passes and 30 interceptions.
Noteworthy offers: Georgia, Baylor, Iowa State, Colorado
Depth chart in 2020?: No, unless something really, really unexpected happens, like Hogan taking off or injuries. Sophomore Spencer Petras has had every good thing a coach can say said about him without having thrown a pass of consequence. It’s time to see if he can do it. Or it will be time once we start moving out of quarantine.
If Petras can do it — no reason at all to think he can’t — then you just hope a QB controversy like 2014 doesn’t happen. You remember, when Jake Rudock was good enough to hang on to the job, and C.J. Beathard wasn’t quite good enough to take it away. That ruined 2014 as much as anything. Everyone has a year to see how this goes.
Off-the-top-of-my-head Hawkeye comparison: Chuck Long/Rudock/Nate Stanley
Let me explain this one. QB is tricky. Hogan is tall like Long, standing 6-4. He’s not a read option guy, but he has good enough feet to move around the pocket and make the naked rollout work. He also has a big, big arm, like Stanley.
Watch Hogan’s Hudl video, and you see Stanley-type arm strength. Like a Jugs football machine. Mechanics seem sound, like he knows how a throw is supposed to look and feel and what he needs to do to make his body do it.
What I like is how he sees the field and accuracy. Timing and anticipation are there (his dad, Kris, was his head coach at Faith Christian; in February, he took the head coaching position at Houston Cypress Christian). He throws to the shoulder that allows the receiver to stay in stride and keep moving. That would be a huge bonus for an offense that always can use explosive plays.
Hogan is a Rivals 4 star as a prostyle quarterback. Iowa is where prostyle QBs can find a home, thrive and have a shot at earning an NFL paycheck (With Stanley poised to be drafted, the Hawkeyes should have their last three starters — Rudock, Beathard and Stanley — competing for NFL roster spots this fall.
What Iowa says: In retrospect, maybe coming in as a spring enrollee would’ve gotten the ball rolling faster as far as Iowa’s playbook goes, but Hogan is steeped in football. Part of what got Iowa’s attention was his work at the whiteboard, breaking down plays designed to beat cover 4.
But now, that staying in Grapevine might’ve been the smartest thing ever.
“We feel good about Spencer, we feel good about Alex (Padilla),” Ferentz said. “He comes from a coaching family. His dad is a coach. Stanley’s dad was, (Drew) Tate’s dad was. I think that’s a good combination. He’s a sharp guy, he’s a football guy. ... I think it’ll all be fine. It’s let the best man win, we’ll see where it all goes.”
Hogan did end up doing the most QB thing you can do and gave a speech during one of his visits. Yes, a QB speech. Cliche? Sure, maybe, but wouldn’t you rather have a QB who’s capable of inspiring than one who can’t find those words?
“Then you get a guy like Deuce, who’s a natural leader,” Barnes said. “He’s got a presence about himself. He’s actively trying to recruit guys on social media, behind the scenes. It’s been well documented that he actually talked with our guys during our big commitment weekend in June. We didn’t coach him up on what to say. I think I was one of the few staff members who sat in on that speech and it’s shocking.
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“He’s got a natural aura about him and natural leadership that you can’t really teach. I think that’s part of his upbringing. He comes from an unbelievable family with a dad who’s a head coach and who does motivational speaking. It certainly helps to get a guy who wants to help you recruit and who wants to help you get guys around him.”
And one more. Barnes was struck by Hogan’s personality.
“Now, this kid can talk to anybody,” Barnes said. “He can sit down and talk to that plant for an hour and have a great conversation.”
ESPN rankings: 19th-ranked QB nationally, 59th-ranked prospect in the region and No. 46 in the state of Texas. Also, here’s Hogan’s SPARQ numbers: 4.94-second 40-yard dash, 4.46-second 20-yard shuttle, 31.3 vertical jump, 31-foot-5-inch power throw, overall rating 70.47 (best was 98.7, worst was 54.75).
My take: The Iowa staff loves the leadership. How can you not? It’s quarterback and football.
Let’s go back to 2014. Not in a negative way, just to study the leadership styles of Rudock and Beathard. Rudock was strict. He had high goals for himself on and off the field. He once walked a media session through some organic chemistry exercise. He barked and the pack listened. Or maybe they did and didn’t. Or maybe some of them did, but not all. Whatever. Something unplugged for Rudock during the season. Beathard was “the dude.” Players loved him. Once or twice, he hosted teammates to his family’s Nashville home. Maybe it was as simple as this: Maybe Rudock was “my way or the highway” and Beathard was “we’re going to be here all day until we get it right, so let’s get it right and go down to Spo Co.”
Vocal leadership comes with timing. You need to know when it’s organic and not allow it to come out as forced. Your teammates are constantly looking to you for cues. That can be tricky, but it sounds like Hogan has this in him.
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