It seems like a pretty popular question these days; who does Jake Rudock remind you of? I've seen it on Twitter, the message boards, and a caller even asked on the Kirk Ferentz call in show this week. So yeah, let's examine that question. For me, I can't really remember anyone before the Ferentz years, so let's stick to that.
The comparisons here might not go too far...there's none of the antics or the wild escapability with Jake, but I really like the way he throws the ball when he rolls out of the pocket. Tate made a living off this. I don't remember the exact details, but I think it was like NCAA 2006, and fake Tate's thrown on the run accuracy rating was through the roof. I remember playing as Iowa and running around silly and then just chucking up bombs that were right on that money.
Anyway, Rudock has shown a lot of good things when Greg Davis has him roll out. He's run the ball when nothing is open and picked up positive yards. He's found deep receivers (the play to Tevaun Smith to set up the first TD on Saturday comes to mind), and he's gone through his options and checked down to a shallow route. I don't think Iowa will be rolling him out the way they did with Tate when Sam Brownlee was the only running back left, but I think it'll be a big part of the offense. The TD pass to Kevonte Martin-Manley was on a zone-read play-action, where Rudock rolled out to his left and had KMM create good separation running the same way. That was an easy pitch and catch.
Rudock might not have the same zip on the ball that Vandenberg was able to throw, but I throw these two in the "really smart" category. For as bad as JVB's season went last year, his deficiencies didn't come from making reckless decisions (for the most part). I always felt like JVB did a good job audibling to better plays and he was smart (though conservative) with where he threw the ball. I see a lot of the same tendencies in Rudock. Other than the bad pick against NIU, I haven't ever really felt like "what are you doing?!?" when he throws the ball.
I think this is the one that most people have landed on. The Stanzi comparison is strong, especially with 2008 Stanzi. In 2008, Iowa had a killer rushing attack with Shonn Greene. Stanzi, a sophomore like Rudock, was more or less a game manager whose job it was to hand off the ball (although that is also selling him short -- the final drive of the Penn State game was him being a playmaker). And similarly, Rudock's main job is handing the ball off...a lot.
Going further, though, I think the two had similar capabilities to make plays with their feet. Remember that "zone-read" that Stanzi kept against Penn State that fooled everyone, even the running back? Now we just need to see Jake keep the ball on some of those zone-read plays. The other similarity, of course, is the STANZIBALLS.
In the end, it's been 3 games into Rudock's young career. He'll have plenty of opportunities to make his own name for himself. And based on what I've seen so far, I think he's got potential to grow and be a pretty good 3-year starter for the Hawkeyes.