The forecast for Iowa City is Sunshine.
Quarterback Jake Rudock will transfer, according to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:
QB Jake Rudock, who started 2 yrs at #Iowa, is transferring. He will visit #Michigan next wk,source told @FOXSports. As a grad, is elig. now— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) March 11, 2015
Feldman's report is here. The one nugget is that Michigan QB/passing game coach Jedd Fisch recruited Rudock out of high school when Fisch was still at Miami, so there's the existing connection between Rudock and Michigan; this wasn't just a name out of a hat.
The rumors of Rudock's departure had circulated for weeks now, starting in earnest with Rudock's demotion on the post-bowl depth chart behind rising junior C.J. Beathard, who thoroughly outplayed Rudock in the blowout loss to Tennessee and has long been a cause célèbre in Iowa City—as backup quarterbacks often are. The whispers ramped up to a fever pitch a few weeks ago, and it now appears there was merit to them.
Rudock leaves with a fairly decent stat line under his belt, especially last season: 61.7% completion rate, 16 touchdowns, five picks, 203 yards per game and a QB rating of 133.5. Not world-beating stuff, but not bad (especially considering how miserable James Vandenberg was in this same offense).
The problem, of course, was that Rudock's stats don't tell the whole story. He had a dizzying array of talent around him, including arguably Iowa's deepest, most talented set of wideouts and tight ends in a decade. And yet Rudock's throws were excessively conservative—the middle of the field has been a no-man's land—until situation dictated otherwise. And to be sure, Rudock often shined in those high-pressure situations, leading a comeback against Ball State and bringing Iowa back to contention in the second half of games against Maryland and Wisconsin. It's just that that Rudock was so hard to bring out, and the long-haired roadie-looking guy wearing #16 on Iowa's sidelines plays at that speed and that speed only. Nobody caught more than three touchdowns all year for the Hawkeyes, and even the perpetually-open Tevaun Smith couldn't crack 600 yards receiving on the season.
Rudock's reliance on the checkdown (Damon Bullock, a reserve tailback, was fourth in receptions last year) and reluctance to test defenders downfield became an easy target for commentators during the season, and if guys who saw Iowa two or three times a year could notice Rudock's hesitations in the pocket, the fans who watched all 13 were acutely aware. Rudock was perpetually a beat too late, unsure an open window was really open, distrustful of his own deep ball, etc. His implosion against Nebraska, mirroring Iowa's own collapse after taking a 17-point lead, was emblematic of Iowa's offensive struggles for the year. Too often it seemed as if Rudock was the ceiling on Iowa's offense (here, the offensive line gets far more of a pass than it deserves), and the Iowa fans' frustration was, to be sure, well-earned.
Michigan does still need a starting quarterback, and one suspects Rudock would not be visiting Ann Arbor were his presence not specifically requested and desired. Rudock's hardly guaranteed a starting job, especially with former 5-star prospect Shane Morris still on campus. Highly-touted prospects Wilton Speight (rising sophomore) and Alex Malzone (freshman) are also there. And heck, Michigan may say that's plenty of options at QB. Even Rudock's connection to the powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) program is effectively moot, as former Houston QB John O'Korn (ineligible for 2015) is also an alumnus of the program, and he just transferred to Michigan for the offseason.
Regardless, there will be a D-I market for Rudock's services. He's a QB with multiple seasons of starting experience at a major-conference level, he's never been in a hint of trouble or been a distraction from football matters, and he's eligible right now. He seems like the kind of guy Kirk Ferentz would love, and the kind of guy Ferentz would love is the kind of guy just about any football coach would love. It's just that he had more than sufficient time to prove himself running Iowa's program, and the results were... well.
So now the message is crystal-clear: C.J. Beathard is the guy in Iowa City. Tyler Wiegers, who redshirted last season and is still learning the playbook (and dynamics of playing under center), is the only other scholarship quarterback currently on campus. True freshmen Ryan Boyle and Drew Cook are en route, but depending on either of them in 2015 would be a signal of extreme distress for the Iowa program.
Rudock's fall from favor is not the first time an Iowa quarterback with over a year of starting experience has fled the program before his senior season; recall that former four-star prospect Jake Christensen was benched during his junior season for a plucky, long-haired sophomore named Ricky Stanzi, and Christensen summarily departed for Eastern Illinois. La plus ça change, la plus c'est la même chose, non?
Godspeed, Mr. Rudock, and wherever you go, throw the damn ball already.