Drew Cook trying to become latest former QB to thrive as Iowa tight end
IOWA CITY, Ia. — As a kid, Drew Cook would "always" watch football tape from his dad’s playing days. Marv Cook, the current head football coach at Regina, starred at tight end for the Hawkeyes in the late 1980s and in the NFL in the early '90s.
"It’s really cool thinking back on that," the younger Cook said with a smile.
Every time he plopped in front of the TV and put in Dad’s tape, Cook was studying for his Hawkeye future. He just didn’t know it yet.
Cook switched from quarterback to tight end in Iowa’s final week of spring practice. Once a third-stringer behind a two-horse race, the hometown sophomore joins an eight-deep Iowa legacy position that runs in his blood.
"Now it’s just my turn to try to make my mark," he said.
He played in the spring game’s fourth quarter with new third-string quarterback Ryan Boyle. It's impossible to draw any conclusions from a scrimmage after a few days of practice at a new position. But it didn't look like Cook made any significant mistakes.
"It was cool,” he said. "Lining up next to my big guys up front and getting to work in the trenches, it was fun."
Cook, a former three-star pro-style quarterback recruit from Regina, caught one of two passes thrown his way and ran decent routes. He wasn’t featured much in blocking, which will be the hardest adjustment for him, head coach Kirk Ferentz said.
"But there’s no lack of want-to there," Ferentz said. "So, to me, with a summer of training and learning a feel for what it takes now technique-wise, I think he’ll do a good job in camp and we’ll see where it goes."
Cook entered spring practice with every intention to remain a quarterback, he said. But Ferentz called him in for a meeting a couple weeks ago, suggested the position change and gave him a day or two to decide.
So, Cook talked it over with the best tight end he knows: Dad.
"He was just like, 'OK let’s do this,'" Drew Cook said. “He was on board and obviously that was exciting. So now we’re just rolling with it and he’s helping me out and helping me get better."
Iowa isn't short on quarterback-turned-tight end success stories.
Marv Cook was quarterback for West Branch High, who play in the Little Rose Bowl, a 20-minute drive east of Kinnick Stadium.
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Dallas Clark played quarterback for Twin River Valley High in Bode, Ia., before Iowa helped turn him into a tight end fixture for the Indianapolis Colts.
Budding NFL star C.J. Fiedorowicz played just about every position, including quarterback, for Johnsburg High in Johnsburg, Ill., before settling in at tight end with the Hawkeyes.
Like those three, Drew Cook came to Iowa already looking like a tight end. He’s listed at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds. That’s the same height and about the same weight as second-year tight ends T.J. Hocksensen and Noah Fant, who project as Iowa’s Week 1 starters right now.
"It feels good. I’m a big guy and I can run and all that and that’s helpful," Cook said. "So when you can put your hand in the dirt, there’s a little confidence there.
"But there’s still a big learning curve for me."
There is. And he’ll likely face an uphill battle to find the field this season.
Hockensen, Fant and Iowa’s other five tight ends all primarily caught passes or blocked in high school, and were recruited to do that in Kinnick. Cook totaled five catches for 114 yards at Regina. (Although four of those were touchdowns.)
Fant and Hockensen mostly played together with the first team in the spring game. They combined for six catches and 39 yards. Shaun Beyer added two catches for 11 yards, and Jon Wisnieski snared one for 16 yards.
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Still, Ferentz is impressed so far with Cook.
"He’s only been there, what has it been, six practices now? But he jumped in with both feet," Ferentz said. "He went at it hard."
Players and coaches now get some time off before summer workouts begin in June. So what’s next for Cook as he acclimates to the new position?
Sounds about right. And how do you do that?
"Just listening to (strength) Coach Doyle."
Ferentz returns to West Des Moines on Tuesday
The 10-stop Hawkeye State Tour, hosted by the I-Club, begins Tuesday in West Des Moines with a star-studded lineup.
Football coach Kirk Ferentz will be joined by outgoing seniors C.J. Beathard, Cole Croston, Anthony Gair, LeShun Daniels Jr. and Riley McCarron at the Sheraton Hotel (1800 50th Street). Former Hawkeye QB Chuck Long will also present a special award.
Doors open at 5 p.m., with a social followed by a served dinner and program hosted by Hawkeye radio voice Gary Dolphin. Tickets are $38 for adults and $28 for those eighth grade and younger. For more information, visit polkiclub.com or contact Joe Chmelka at (515) 770-7535.
The other nine stops on the Hawkeye State Tour with various Hawkeye coaches: Boone (May 1), Fort Dodge (May 2), Carroll (May 3), Manchester (May 3), Council Bluffs/Omaha (May 4), Ottumwa (May 11), Waterloo (May 15), Clinton (May 17) and Cedar Rapids (TBA). For more information on those events, visit jointheiclub.com.
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.