Up Close with C.J. Beathard

C.J. Beathard jumped into the spotlight this week after leading Iowa to victory at Pitt Saturday in a relief road. Hawkeye Insider familiarizes you with the sophomore from Tennessee with this feature story and video.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The media flocked to C.J. Beathard like he was handing out cash when he showed up here at Tuesday's weekly press conference. Iowa's sophomore quarterback handled the blitz with ease.

The sophomore relieved injured starter Jake Rudock during last week's 24-20 upset victory at Pittsburgh. Beathard led the Hawkeyes on three second-half scoring drives in the come-from-behind win.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that Rudock (hip) was day to day with his injury, opening up the possibility that Beathard could start this Saturday's Big Ten opener at Purdue (11 a.m. CT, BTN). The head Hawkeye also held Rudock out of interviews on Tuesday, instead sending Beathard to handle all the questions on his position.

The quarterback discussion, specifically who should be playing, has dominated talk in the Iowa fan base this week. It had been a major point of conversation all season.

Beathard and Rudock have done a nice job avoiding the circus centering on them from outsiders. Beathard said after Saturday's game at Pitt that they're friends and help each other. Any questions on Tuesday prodding him to promote his cause was met with the same answer. It was sincere.

Some fans have labeled Rudock as a game-manger, that is to say what he lacks in natural skills is compensated for by his grasp of the offense. Beathard has been viewed as the gunslinger with the strong arm and rebel approach to the game.

The truth resides somewhere in the middle. Rudock's athletic ability is undervalued as his Beathard's reputation as a guy that wants to chuck it all over the field.

"Any time you can score a touchdown, it's exciting," Beathard said. "Wether we run the ball 100 times a game and pass it five, as long as we get the win, it's the same to me."

Beathard ended up at Iowa after decommitting from Ole Miss following a coaching change there. He chose the Hawkeyes in large part because of the way he connected with Ken O'Keefe.

O'Keefe then left his post as offensive coordinator to become the Miami Dolphins receivers coach before Beathard stepped foot on Iowa's campus. The Tennessee product is used to things being unsettled.

Beathard lost out on the starting job last summer when the coaches chose Rudock. The back-up has prepared like a starter ever since and saw action in five games in 2013 and two more this season. He expected to work out the same way this week.

"You go in and practice hard; work as if you're going to play. Sometimes you don't play and you have to be mentally like, it's all good. I have to keep my faith. God's got a plan. It's all going to work out, I'm not going to stress about it," Beathard said.

Beathard (6-2, 203) understands what it's like to be in the spotlight. His father, Casey Beathard, is a Grammy Award nominated country music song writer. Bobby Beathard, C.J. paternal grandfather, is a retired NFL general manager who spent 38 years in the league.

Beathard said he grew up around professional athletes and admired how they handled themselves. He most looked up to the late Junior Seau, a all-pro linebacker for the San Diego Chargers when his grandfather was the franchise's GM.

"It's kind of cool to grow up in that kind of atmosphere," C.J. said. "Junior Seau is a guy I really loved; not a quarterback but he was a really good leader, good guy. I got to hang out with him and it was awesome."

Iowa's top two quarterbacks look completely different. Rudock shows the appearance of an alter boy and Beathard could pass as a lead singer in a rock band.

"I would say we have different personalities, for sure," Beathard said. "I don't really know how but we're different in certain ways. But we're also the same when it comes to being on the field. We have to know our stuff exactly the same. Off the field we have different personalities like everyone does on the team."

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