Hawkeye film room: New QB recruit Petras' pocket presence, live arm stand out

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

The Hawkeyes secured a prime-time commitment Friday morning from four-star quarterback Spencer Petras, a former Oregon State pledge.

Marin Catholic quarterback Spencer Petras (4) committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday.

Petras, who checks in at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, played in Northern California at Marin Catholic, the alma mater of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. He threw for 4,157 yards and 50 touchdowns — both school records — this season.

Rivals gives Petras four stars and ranks him as 2018’s No. 11 pro-style quarterback. The 247Sports Composite gives him three stars and ranks him 19th among pro-style recruits.

His film pops, and it reminds you of current Hawkeye quarterback Nate Stanley. Let’s take a closer look at what makes Petras stand out in this HawkCentral film room session.

Cannon for an arm: We’re going for the low-hanging fruit first. Any discussion about Petras involves his rocket-launcher arm, and it’s on immediate display in his film. In the first clip, he heaves a touchdown that travels 50 yards through the air before landing perfectly in his target’s hands in the front corner of the end zone. At the one-minute mark, Petras zips a line drive from the 50 to the 20 in half a second, finding his man on a deep cross. (Looked like some of Stanley’s fastballs across the middle the Noah Fant.) At the 1:25 mark, Petras rolls out to his weaker left side and wrist-flicks a 25-yard gain. He’s got a quick release that stays pretty consistent, no matter the type of pass.


Steady in the pocket, strong footwork: Petras is not incredibly mobile and thrives as a pocket passer. He plays with a sturdy, balanced base and sound footwork that allows him to move well in any direction. He rarely gets happy feet and has a powerful weight shift on his deep passes. (It helps that his offensive line provided great protection.) He can make things happen when that protection falters, though. At the two-minute mark, Petras doesn’t break from a collapsing pocket until the last moment, before rolling left and completing a 33-yard pass. At the 7:50 mark, he side-steps a free rusher coming from his left, immediately resets his feet to square up and fires a completion to his receiver by the sideline. At the 9:35 mark, he navigates left and right inside a collapsing pocket, evades two sacks and finds his man for a 20-yard gain.

Not a great runner, but gets the job done when he needs to: Iowa won’t be calling many designed runs for Petras. Marin Catholic had him roll out every now and then, but even those were maybe 5-7 yards at most. He did, however, put up some good rushing efforts in his Hudl film. Probably the most impressive came at the 9:30 mark. The pocket collapses around Petras, so he pushes up through the middle, follows a wide receiver blocker and navigates his way to the sideline for a 35-yard gain. He flashes a bit more athleticism at the 11:15 mark, faking an option left and breaking a tackle for a 20-yard touchdown.

He’s patient. He’s smart: Petras’ Hudl is full of clips where he reads through two or three progressions before finding an open man. (Again, usually strong protection from his offensive line helps here.) Left to right or right to left, he’s demonstrated the ability to patiently read through his options and make the right — and smart — choice. He throws with great timing and often throws his receivers open. He also utilizes head-fakes well. A great example comes at the four-minute mark, when Petras looks left and distracts the safety just enough to allow his receiver to get behind everyone for a corner-of-the-end-zone touchdown.

Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at mbain@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.