Caring about recruiting is creepy, people, and never forget that. But we do have good news on the creep front, and that is that according to reports, one of the three commitments that Iowa received today (according to recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson, anyway) is St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback Jake Rudock.
If Aquinas sounds familiar, it should; it's one of the most prominent Florida high school football programs, and recent Hawkeye star Mo Brown is an alumnus. They won 11 games last season with Rudock at the helm, and the (reportedly) 6'3", 180 pound QB is one of the main reasons why. He finished his junior season with 34 TDs and only 5 INTs on 65% passing, plus three rushing touchdowns.
Ah, but statistics say so little! After all, Jon Beutjer broke the Illinois HS touchdown record, and the best thing he ever did for the Iowa football program was transferring to the Illini. Luckily, Rudock's got a highlight reel, and um... eeeeee:
A couple of very immediate impressions: First, Rudock is throwing to some very talented receivers. Like Beutjer in high school and Jimmy Clausen and JaMarcus Russell in college, a quarterback can be made to look very, very good if he's got a highly talented WR corps. To that end, Rudock's top two WR targets are Rashad Greene and Phillip Dorsett (yep, his son), who are headed to FSU and Miami, respectively.
But secondly, watching that video, it's clear that Rudock is better off for it, because for as good as Greene and Dorsett are at getting open, Rudock is equally good at delivering a great pass. Not only are the passes on the reel (mostly) complete and productive, but Rudock does a great job of hitting his receivers in stride, toward the correct shoulder. Sure, it's a highlight reel, so we don't know how many bad balls he threw, but again: five interceptions all year.
If the highlight reel is the only point of reference, Rudock should be a very highly regarded quarterback prospect. And yet, he isn't that highly touted; his other offers are Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, and Memphis. No slouches (outside of Champaign), but from what we've seen here, he deserves a better offer list than that.
So we're left to wonder why, exactly, Rudock isn't receiving the recruiting attention that would normally befit a super-accurate, tall QB at one of Florida's premier high school football programs. These are all purely speculative and you should take none as unimpeachable fact; we're merely trying to contextualize outside factors to fit the facts we know.
1. He may not really be 6'3" (yet). For as much of a difference as there is between Ricky Stanzi and Jake Christensen as quarterbacks, the biggest may be the five inches of height between the two. Christensen was always listed as 6'1", but he never seemed that big--especially when he was facing a collapsing pocket and his interior linemen were getting stood up. Meanwhile, Stanzi's a legit 6'4" or 6'5", and there's way more of a difference between a 6'4" QB and a 6'1" QB than the 6'1" QB and the 5'10" QB.
So if Rudock isn't at the projected height of 6'3" yet and may actually never get there, then that would be a legitimate reason to worry about his performance at the next level.
2. That danged shotgun. You'll notice that Rudock mainly worked out of the shotgun spread--which is what any halfway sane HS coach would have advocated in that scenario. It was probably substantially easier for him to make his primary and secondary reads without have to backpedal at the same time. Some coaches care very much about this--just look at Graham Harrell's inability to get drafted.
3. Maybe that arm isn't that great. It should be noted that about 15% of NCAA throws require an NFL arm, and the rest is all touch. So while Kyle Boller and Kyle Orton get NFL hype, the guys who can make those mid-range throws are usually better off. And so while we don't see the 50-yard frozen ropes that typify the truly hot prospects, we'll just point out the fact that it's been a long while since we've seen an Iowa quarterback drop a pass over a receiver's shoulder as artfully as Rudock does at 1:50.
And yeah, look: it takes a gun of an arm to succeed in the NFL. But the NCAA isn't the NFL, and Danny Wuerffel just so happened to break pass efficiency records by short-arming throws all over the place. So arm strength isn't the reliable predictor of strength that NCAA scouts would have you believe. NFL, maybe, but not NCAA.
And really, this entire article is just an intellectual exercise with the intent of figuring out why this kid doesn't have a giant offer sheet and at least four stars to his name, because Rudock can ball for real, and there's a very good chance he starts at least one full season for the Hawkeyes. Kid can throw, and throw for keeps. Welcome aboard, sir.