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Iowa Football Notebook: Spencer Petras Ahead of QB Field, Late Recruiting Period

January 20, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Spencer Petras emerged from a competition with Peyton Mansell last summer to win Iowa’s No. 2 quarterback spot behind three-year starter Nate Stanley. The sophomore-to-be from Californian enters this offseason as the heir apparent for the No. 1 gig.

“Going into January, my assessment is Petras is the next guy up,” Iowa coach Kirk ferentz said Monday during a press conference here at the football performance center.

“He’s going to have to earn it every day. He’s there (at No. 1), but it’s like everybody in our roster, if you’re there, you’ve got to keep it there. That’s part of the fun of it, seeing how everybody is going to do, how everybody is going to react.”

Mansell announced earlier this month that he was transferring to Abilene (TX) Christian, leaving Petras and redshirt freshman-to-be Alex Padilla as the only scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. Class of 2020 signee Deuce Hogan was expected to join the team in June.

“We’ve got a pretty streamlined depth chart at the quarterback position right now. So, we’ll let everybody compete,” Ferentz said.

Padilla has not taken a snap at Iowa. Petras appeared in five games during the last two seasons, mostly in mop-up duty. He’s completed 6 of 11 pass attempts for 25 yards.

“Spencer has done a good job of grasping what we’re doing. I can say that about Alex. I will interject this, Spencer in December really looked like a college quarterback. He looked like a Big Ten quarterback in practice,” Ferentz said.

“Again, that’s practice but we do competitive stuff against each other and all of us were pleased with what we saw; the growth he’s demonstrated. He seems to have all the right attributes. Now it’s a matter of him getting himself ready and going out and competing.”

NEW PUNTER ADDED: Former Woodbury Central punter Nick Phelps will be walking on at Iowa this semester, he told HN on Monday. It was first reported by Rivals.

Phelps prepped at Moville (IA) Woodbury Central High. He started his college career at North Dakota State, where he red shirted as a true freshman in ’18. After completing the spring semester of ’19 in Fargo, he transferred to Iowa as a student and took classes this past fall.

The Hawkeyes graduated their top two punters (Michael Sleep-Dalton and Colton Rastetter) from ’19. Ryan Gersonde, a redshirt junior-to-be, missed last season following a surgery on his leg.

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Phelps will have three years of eligibility beginning with the ’20 campaign. Iowa also is looking at a high school punter from Australia and beyond that for help at the position.

LATE SIGNING PERIOD, TRANSFER PORTAL: Iowa is looking through the high school ranks and into the transfer portal for roster additions. The former might not yield any more players after the program signed 20 prep prospects last month.

“I don’t think there’s a lot out there right now,” Ferentz said. “It seems like more people signed in December, non-Power 5s, so I’m not sure what the pool looks like.

“All that being said, you just never know. There might be some story out there waiting to be found. Hopefully we can uncover one or two of those, but we’re not banking on that.”

Iowa’s look at the portal comes with the caveat that the prospect has to make sense from a cultural standpoint.

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“Anything we can do to help our football team as long as it fits. We’re probably, I won’t say more selective, but we have a good idea what we think will fit or not fit. The punter situation is something we’re certainly looking at, whether it’s high school or transfer, American or other ways,” Ferentz said.

ASSISTANTS ON BOARD: Ferentz was asked if he knew of anyone on his staff leaving the program. He expected all assistants to stay.

“As far as I know, yeah, as far as I know. You never know but as far as I know, yup,” he said.

Quarterback coach Ken O’Keefe just finished the final season of a three-year deal. He was expected to remain.

“That’s my understanding. He’s going to keep pushing forward. As far as I know, he’s coming back. He hasn’t told me otherwise. And I am happy about that,” Ferentz said.

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POSITION BATTLES: Ferentz was asked Monday about openings on the defensive line and in the secondary. He expected stiff competition at both positions.

The Hawkeyes lost three starters on the line and two in the defensive backfield. A.J. Epenesa, Cedrick Lattimore and Brady Reiff exit the front with starting end Chauncey Golston the only holdover.

Ferentz mentioned Daviyon Nixon, Austin Schulte, Noah Shannon, John Waggoner, Joe Evans, and Zach VanValkenberg as returning players with experience who will be competing for time. He expected redshirt freshman-to-be Logan Lee in the mix as well.

“We’re not sure where they’re going to fit, you know, what positions they will be, but the goal is to come up with four, then five, then six. Kind of like the offensive line, if you can find six, seven, eight guys who can play well, then you’ve got a shot,” Ferentz said.

Starting cornerback Michael Ojemudia and strong safety Geno Stone also have moved on. In a round about way, Ferentz was asked if starting Cash Dane Belton could move back to strong safety or if he would stay and somebody else would replace Stone.

“In a perfect world, we really like that Cash package for the teams we play, but if it comes down to having a good guy sitting on the bench and putting a guy where you’re not sure what he’s going to do out there…,” Ferentz said.

In other words, if Belton is the team’s best strong safety, that’s where he will be.

EXTRA POINTS: Ferentz announced that true freshman offensive lineman Ezra Miller’s career was over and he would be taking a medical redshirt. The coach said there were a few other possibilities of players taking that route, but nothing had not been finalized…the coach did not know of any of his players being the transfer portal.

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