Countdown to Kickoff: Jake Christensen

If the Iowa football team is going to return to Big Ten title contention in 2007, much will rest on the arm of quarterback Jake Christensen. The redshirt sophomore will have his crack at being Iowa's next three-year starter, and he and his teammates will don the visitor's white jersey six times in 2007. We begin our pre-season player profiles with Jake Christensen.

REPORT CARD TO DATE: B+ Christensen redshirted his first year on campus, and was Iowa's #2 quarterback for the last half of the 2006 season, supplanting senior Jason Manson for that role. He made his first career starter against Northern Illinois last October, and he got the win. He converted a crucial fourth and goal play for a touchdown after NIU had taken a late lead on the Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium. Were it not for that play, Iowa might not have won the game. And as the rest of the regular season played out, that probably would have meant that Iowa would have stayed home for the bowl season; that was Iowa's sixth and final win of the 2006 season.

Christensen was thrown into the action against Minnesota when the Iowa coaches were sending a message to Drew Tate; Kirk Ferentz said after that game that Jake was thrown into a tough spot. He was also thrown into the bowl game against Texas after Tate suffered an injury. He made a couple of smart plays, but offensive penalties killed the drive that he participated in. Tate returned, and that was the last we saw of Christensen on the game field.

2007 OFF SEASON PERFORMANCE: Christensen was the #1 quarterback heading into spring drills and he emerged with a stronger hold on that position. Though he is young and relatively inexperienced, his backups are younger and more inexperienced. Christensen performed well during the spring, and he scans the field exceptionally well. He was well schooled by his father Jeff before his arrival at Iowa, as Jeff played in the NFL. Barring an injury, Christensen is your starting quarterback for the 2007 opener.

THIS & THAT Jake has lost just seven games as a starting quarterback in his playing career that dates back to junior high. He's not accustomed to losing, and he is a solid leader on the field. Kirk Ferentz spoke to that this spring:

"After the season, good, bad or indifferent, I was sitting down with our players. One of the questions I asked was who did you see as our leaders right now? Jake's name was mentioned prominently, that was good to hear. That's telling me he's doing the right things behind the scenes, away from us. That's an important part of that position, so it's good to hear. That struck me a little bit, for a guy that hasn't really played to be respected like that; it's a good thing. It tells me he's doing the right things away from us. When they go out and throw around, 7-on-7s, that sort of thing." – Kirk Ferentz, 03/21/07

Jake has a live arm and throws the deep out routes on a rope and on target. That's a bread and butter thrown in all levels of football, and Jake can make it. He will also take more deep shots than we saw from Drew Tate, as he tends to read the field from the top down, as opposed to the opposite. But don't expect the tight end to disappear from Iowa's offense under Christsensen; good friend Tony Moeaki is poised to have a break out season, as he was an underutilized weapon the past two seasons. Jake will know where he is at all times, and he is a mismatch underneath and vertically for any linebacker or safety.

The Christensen File: Only redshirt freshman selected to 2006 Leadership Council . . . one of seven Iowa recruits to participate in 2005 Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, TX.

2006 - - Listed as third team quarterback following spring practice . . . saw action in 41-7 win over Montana as offense gained 416 yards total offense . . . competed all three pass attempts for 19 yards vs. Montana in first action of career . . . did not see action in win at Syracuse . . . did not see action in win over Iowa State . . . did not see action in win at Illinois . . . did not see action in loss to top-ranked Ohio State . . . saw action in win over Purdue as offense reached season high marks in points (47) and rushing yards (286) . . . did not see action in loss at Indiana . . . did not see action in loss at Michigan . . . started first game of his career in Northern Illinois, leading offense to 405 yards total offense in win . . . completed 19-30 passes for 256 yards and two scores, with one interception . . . completed scoring passes of six and 10 yards, with final TD passing sealing the victory in the fourth quarter . . . did not see action in loss to Northwestern . . . did not see action in loss to Wisconsin . . . saw action in loss at Minnesota, completing 1-2 passes for 10 yards, with one interception, as offense gained season-best 546 yards total offense . . . saw action vs. Texas in Alamo Bowl, gaining one yard on two rushing attempts.

2005 - - Redshirted . . . Team Leader Award, offense.

High school honors - - Earned all-American recognition from USA Today, SuperPrep, and Parade Magazine . . . named Illinois Player of the Year by Champaign News-Gazette . . . was first team all-state and all-conference as a senior . . . earned first team all-conference, all-area and all-state honors as a junior after leading prep team to second straight Class 8A state title . . . Career - - career totals include 404-774 for 6,555 yards and 69 touchdowns . . . completed 178-317 attempts as a senior for 2,874 yards and 36 touchdowns as a senior, with 11 interceptions . . . passed for 3,681 yards and 33 touchdowns, with five interceptions as a junior, completing 226-457 pass attempts . . . earned three letters in football and three letters as baseball outfielder.

Personal - - Born 8/15/86 . . . communications and marketing major . . . parents are Linda Freveletti and Jeff Christensen . . . member of prep Honor Roll for four years . . . father played with Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Cleveland in the NFL . . .

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