SOLON, Iowa - It wasn't the way Drew Cook wanted to start his senior season. The Regina quarterback and his teammates saw their 56-game winning streak halted here Friday night by rival Solon, 29-28, in overtime.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Cook completed 19 of 26 passes for 225 yards. The Spartans slowed the Iowa verbal commitment from his usual ground production, holding him to 14 yards on 13 carries.
EVALUATION: This was the second time I saw Cook play in a game. The first occasion came during last year's state championship.
Cook produced more when I watched him in November than he did Friday, particularly with this legs. And I think Solon had a lot to do with it. The Spartans game planned to stop him from running and force him to beat them with his arm.
Solon was a better team than what the Regals saw in the state title game. Plus, Regina was not at the high level at which it played at the UNI-Dome.
With that in mind, I was pleased with what I saw from Cook Friday. I thought his mechanics looked improved over last season, his footwork in the pocket appeared smooth and he showed he could get through his progressions most of the time.
Much of the damage Cook exacted in the passing game came on screens and short routes, but he was accurate on the vast majority of the quick throws. His receivers were delivered the ball in stride where they could make people miss.
Cook's best throw of the night came on a left sideline, fade route where he put the ball on the money, where only his teammate could make a play on it. He also hit a few intermediate routes over the middle, threading the passes through defenders.
Cook already has become a lightening rod for disagreement as a prospect. It's brought to mind the case of former City High standout A.J. Derby.
Like Derby, who played quarterback for the Little Hawks, some fans and evaluators see Cook changing positions when he gets to Iowa. Since his father, Marv Cook, is a former star tight end with the Hawkeyes and in the NFL, that's where Drew seems to be headed in the minds of some folks.
I was one of the people who thought Derby could develop into a good college quarterback. He possessed a strong arm and excellent athleticism. Now, he's catching passes as a senior tight end at Arkansas, which will likely fuel more talk of Drew Cook moving there.
I feel the same way about Drew Cook as I did about Derby when he was a senior in high school. Drew boasts similar tools to what A.J. had at this stage, namely a strong arm and super athleticism on a 6-5, 225-pound frame. Not a lot of guys that size can run a 4.5-second, 40-yard dash.
Drew will have to continue to make progress at a very difficult position. But he likely has at least two more years to continue developing. And let's not forget, Derby did rise to backup quarterback at Iowa in '11.
I realize some people want to figure out the Drew Cook-Jack Beneventi-Ryan Boyle puzzle out now. But let's see how it shakes out. The Iowa coaches have told all three they will get a crack at playing quarterback when they arrive on campus and it will be interesting to watch it play out.
Please watch my game highlights from Drew Cook against Solon from Friday night below: