Iowa linebacker recruit OK with putting away his QB skills

Pat Harty
Iowa City Press-Citizen

With nearly 1,500 total yards in five games, Iowa football recruit Jack Hockaday is making the most out of the limited time he has left to play quarterback in high school.

But don't feel sorry for him just because he has to give up playing quarterback in college.

Hockaday knows it's in his best interest to play defense in college, partly because of his size at 6 feet and 200 pounds, but also because that's what he prefers to do. Hockaday gets more enjoyment from making a bone-rattling tackle than scoring a touchdown or throwing a touchdown pass.

"Actually, I don't think it's going to be tough for me to give (quarterback) up at all," said Hockaday, who is expected to play linebacker for Iowa, on Wednesday night "I'm a defensive player and defense is what I want to play in college. It's what I enjoy.

"I'm not really a fan of all the quarterback drills and everything. I have a lot more fun on defense."

Hockaday lives in the small town of Maroa, Ill., which is about a 40-minute drive from Champaign. He picked the Hawkeyes over scholarship offers from Illinois, Nebraska, Indiana and Duke.

"Just everything about it, the fans, the coaches," Hockaday said of why he picked Iowa. "The coaches, I have a good relationship with them. They just seem like great guys. And I just want to play for those guys."

Hockaday grew up playing both quarterback and linebacker. He is perhaps best described as a rugged dual-threat quarterback, who runs like a fullback, but can also burn defenses with his arm.

"I would say I'm a hard runner," Hockaday said. "I don't like to go down easy.

"It's definitely fun being on offense and getting all the yards and stuff. But I just enjoy defense. I enjoy everything about it."

Hockaday's future as a football player started to sort itself out after he made a highlight tape on offense and defense after his sophomore season.

"I had both, quarterback and throwing, and defensive plays on there," Hockaday said. "And I just got good feedback for defense. And I just knew my best chance to play somewhere big would be on defense."

Hockaday's production on offense still hasn't been enough to keep his team from losing two of its five games this season. He completed 18-of-26 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns during a 44-38 loss to Unity in his most recent game. He also rushed for 100 yards and scored three touchdowns in the game.

'It's going all right, not the way we're used to starting," Hockaday said. "But we're getting better every week. We've got two of the tougher games of the year coming up in the next two weeks, so we have to prepare for that and be ready to go and get some wins."

Hockaday is one of 14 players committed to Iowa's 2015 recruiting class, all of whom are high school seniors. The class also has the rare distinction of having three quarterback recruits, including Drew Cook from Iowa City Regina and Ryan Boyle from West Des Moines Dowling Catholic. The other quarterback recruit is Jack Beneventi from suburban Chicago.

Hockaday is ranked as a 3-star recruit by both and Scout also lists Hockaday as an outside linebacker, while Rivals lists him as an athlete.

MCCAFFERY'S NEW CHALLENGE: Fran McCaffery is having to recruit forward Ahmad Wagner all over again, only this time it's more than just convincing Wagner to be a Hawkeye hoopster. McCaffery also has to convince Wagner that basketball is still his best option over football.

Wagner is now being recruited as receiver in football. Kentucky already has offered the 6-foot-6, 215-pound native of Huber Heights, Ohio a scholarship, while Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan reportedly are interested.

McCaffery is doing what he can to keep Wagner committed, including making a recent recruiting visit to Wagner's home in Ohio, along with Iowa assistant coach Sherman Dillard. Wagner recently expressed his appreciation on Twitter for McCaffery and Dillard arriving safely to visit him.

"Glad coach McCaffery and coach Dillard made it down safely to see me and my family today! #HawkeyeNation."

Wagner is expected to sign a national letter of intent with the Iowa basketball team in November, along with shooting guard Andrew Fleming and small forward Brandon Hutton.

However, Wagner could wait until the spring signing period in April in order to see what happens with his recruitment in football. The football signing period will start on the first Wednesday in February.

In other words, Wagner's situation could be fluid for a while.

SORT OF A NAMESAKE: Iowa already has a Falconer in its 2015 recruiting class with Leesburg, Fla., receiver Adrian Falconer having committed to the Hawkeyes in late July.

The Iowa coaches now hope to add a Falcon to the 2016 class.

High school junior running back Matt Falcon told Hawkeye that he received a scholarship offer from Iowa on Tuesday.

"I like Iowa; they're a running team," said Falcon, who is from Michigan. "They run the ball and they win. Those are the two things I like to do the most, so I'm interested."

Landing Falcon won't be easy, though, as he already reports scholarship offers from Ohio State, Illinois, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Akron, Northern Illinois, and Toledo.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Quarterback recruit Jack Beneventi completed 8-of-14 passes for 147 yards and one touchdown, leading his Fenwick High School team from suburban Chicago to a 38-0 victory over DePaul Prep. He also rushed for one touchdown … Iowa City Regina quarterback Drew Cook had 133 total yards – 97 passing and 36 rushing – in last Friday's 49-14 victory over Highland. Cook only played one possession in the second quarter before being replaced by his backup … West Des Moines Dowling quarterback Ryan Boyle completed 8-of-15 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 26 yards during a 51-10 victory over Council Bluffs Lewis Central … Receiver Emmanual Ogwo had three catches for 52 yards, including a 26 yard touchdown in the third quarter to lead Horn High School from Mesquite, Texas to a 42-21 victory over rival Mesquite …Offensive linemen and twin brothers Levi and Landan Paulsen paved the way for 387 rushing yards, leading Woodbury Central to a 38-0 victory over LeMars Gehlen …Tight end Nate Vejvoda, who attends Providence Catholic in suburban Chicago, caught two passes for 24 yards in his team's latest victory. His team improved to 5-0 on the season.