Iowa's Ryan Boyle on return to quarterback: 'This is where I want to be'

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — For about nine months, Ryan Boyle and his football career drifted off the planned course. But the decorated Dowling Catholic football product feels like he’s back home again in the Iowa quarterbacks room.

After experimenting as a college wide receiver, Boyle and head coach Kirk Ferentz revisited his Hawkeye future in January.

“It was mutual,” Boyle said, “where I wanted to go back and he was OK with it.”

Ryan Boyle (11) began spring practice at quarterback after a nine-month venture at wide receiver. Here, he's shown with offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz at a Valley Stadium open practice in April.

Boyle was a traveling emergency quarterback during his redshirt year, then spent Year 2 staying home on road trips as a receiver buried on the depth chart.

He played in only one game, in a mop-up role against Iowa State.

Even as Hawkeye receivers were either injured or ineffective, Boyle stayed on the sidelines. He said he knew the plays, knew where to be.

He just didn't get the call.

“Last year was a bit different,” Boyle said. “I was just doing it for the team, with a chance to get on the field. This is where I want to be.”

Now he’s entering his third year in the program, his redshirt sophomore year, with a steep hill to climb again. He’s a long shot to win the starting quarterback job, with Nathan Stanley and Tyler Wiegers sharing the first-team reps in the early stages of fall camp.

He had a smile on his face and said the right things during interviews at Iowa’s recent media day. But it would be understandable if the competitor inside him wondered what his Hawkeye future holds.

He was two-time state-champion quarterback at Dowling with an infectious personality that made guys around him better. He racked up 90 touchdowns — 45 rushing, 45 passing — and an incredible 7,609 yards from scrimmage.

But at Iowa, things look ominous. If Stanley wins the QB job, that’d put a fellow sophomore ahead of him on the depth chart for the foreseeable future.

“I’m just going to take it day by day and keep doing what I can,” Boyle said. “Progressing and learning the playbook the best I can. Hopefully just catch their eye.”

Maybe this Saturday’s Kids Day open practice at Kinnick Stadium (free; gates open at 11 a.m.) will offer him a chance to show in an 11-on-11 setting — with fans in the stands — what he can do.

“Exactly,” he said. “Maybe just (need) the chance.”

At 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, it’s easy to see why Iowa saw value in Boyle as a potential receiver. The Hawkeyes also dabbled with him on special teams, but that experiment is over, too.

Back at quarterback, Boyle has looked the part.

“Ryan’s command of the offense is much better,” quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe said Saturday. “He is delivering the ball on time better than probably he ever has.”

And even if Boyle doesn’t get regular snaps this fall, don’t discount the possibility of a cameo. He’s definitely the best run-pass combo threat of the four quarterbacks.

“There are maybe a few things that are in the works,” he said, grinning, “in terms of maybe some read (option) with (offensive coordinator) Brian Ferentz. I try to do that when I can, in terms of scrambling. It’s a strength, so I try to play on it.”