IOWA CITY, Iowa - In another twist to ongoing quarterback drama at Iowa, Coach Kirk Ferentz is going with the people's choice - at least heading into spring practice.
Ferentz, uncharacteristically, released a depth chart Thursday evening. It came less than a week after Tennessee hammered the Hawkeyes, 45-28, in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl. On it, junior-to-be C.J. Beathard was listed as the team's No. 1 signal caller.
“After spending several days as a staff evaluating our 2014 season and our returning roster, we have established a two-deep depth chart that will serve as a starting point when the team returns to campus,” Ferentz said in a university press release. “As always, this is only a starting point and we anticipate and expect healthy competition at all positions between now and September as we prepare for the 2015 season.”
Other than when he was injured and missed this season's Purdue game, senior-to-be Jake Rudock was listed as the starter on the two-deep for the last two seasons. The Florida product open the previous 25 games under center for Iowa when he was available to play.
A majority of the fan base had been clamoring for Beathard throughout the fall, when the Hawkeyes finished with an uninspiring 7-6 record. He led Iowa to a come-from-behind victory at Pittsburgh when Rudock was hurt then started the following week at Purdue, a game won by Iowa.
Four redshirt freshmen-to-be (Ross Reynolds, Keegan Render, Matt Nelson and Parker Hesse) are listed as back-ups on the new two-deep. They're joined by fellow second years players Taylor and Niemann.
For the season, Rudock completed 213 of 345 passes for 2,436 yards and 16 touchdowns against five interceptions. He posted a 133.5 efficiency rating. Beathard was 52-92 for 645 yards and five scores versus two picks and a 129.0 rating.
The Iowa coaches "opened up" the quarterback competition during bowl prep. Rudock started the TaxSlayer but completed just 2 of 8 passes 32 yards, 31 of which came on a throw to Tevaun Smith on the game's opening drive. Beathard connected on 13 of 23 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Beathard did throw an interception and fumbled the ball away once while Rudock did not turn it over.
Elsewhere on the depth chart, redshirt sophomore-to-be Boone Myers, a former walk-on, heads to spring as the No. 1 left tackle, a spot vacated by Outland Trophy winner Brandon Scherff. He's joined on the first-team O-Line by Sean Welsh (LG), Austin Blythe (C), Jordan Walsh (RG) and Ike Boettger (RT).
On defense, Jaleel Johnson and Nate Bazata are listed as starting tackles, replacing all-Big Ten performers, Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat. At linebacker, Bo Bower flips from LEO to WIL with Ben Niemann listed as the top LEO. Josey Jewell is the No. 1 MLB. Miles Taylor is tabbed as the starting strong safety with Johnny Lowdermilk using up his eligibility.
Four redshirt freshmen-to-be (Ross Reynolds, Keegan Render, Matt Nelson and Parker Hesse) showed up as second-teamers. They joined second-year players Taylor and Niemann.