IOWA CITY, Iowa — Finally, Iowa landed its Class of 2018 quarterback.
And it doesn’t appear to be your ordinary signal caller.
California star Spencer Petras flipped from Oregon State to the Hawkeyes, announcing his decision on Friday.
Iowa needed to fight to secure Petras’ service, and in the long run, it might very well be worth it. He stands out in ways a former No. 1 NFL draft pick didn’t as a prep quarterback, according to his high school coach.
“As a football player he has unbelievable tools and talent,” Marin (Calif.) Catholic football coach Mazi Moayed said. “It’s incredible. He is extremely powerful. Probably the strongest arm we’ve had at Marin Catholic and had the pleasure of coaching Jared Goff when Jared was here.”
Moayed didn’t say Petras is better than Goff, the Los Angeles Rams starting quarterback. But saying Petras’ arm is stronger than Goff’s was as a teenager gets your attention.
Petras profiles as the kind of quarterback the Hawkeyes, and quarterback coach Ken O’Keefe, crave. He already looks the part, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 225 pounds. He plays like it, too, as his senior-season Hudl highlight video is one long series of deep passes for touchdowns.
The amount of shots he took downfield is eye-catching, but the most important part lies in the details. The third throw of the video is from an end-zone camera. Petras works his way through at least three options before settling on a receiver running a vertical route. It’s not an easy toss into a small window. The receiver is heading to the back of the end zone with a defender right on his hip. A safety is coming in support as well.
Petras sets his feet and flings a pass right over the defensive back, hitting his teammate’s hands without breaking stride for a touchdown.
“You got to have the ability,” Moayed said, “but you have to have the knack for that too, the desire to fit the ball in there. He has that.”
The play highlights what is on display again and again in Petras’ clips. He possesses a strong arm, a good downfield touch and quickly works through his progressions.
Highlight tapes are meant to accentuate a player’s strengths, and this certainly does while serving as a reminder that Petras will bring seemingly ever physical tool a program wants to Iowa City.
He is accurate, not just on deep passes. He hits receivers in the numbers on short and intermediate slant routes. His athleticism stands out in an array of bootlegs and the number of times he throws on the run.
“You’ll see some of the clips where he is moving in the pocket,” Moayed said. “His eyes are downfield, and he might not even get to the position he wants to be in, and he’ll flip it sort of 50 or 60 yards and not quite with his legs under him.
“That type of stuff really sticks out to me. His ability to keep his eyes downfield and make a play.”
It’s easy to see why Rivals recently upgraded him to a 4-star player; he is still listed as a 3-star prospect on his 247Sports composite ranking.
And it’s also easy to see why he threw for 4,157 yards, 50 touchdowns and 2 interceptions this season.
None of this guarantees success, but it is easier to try to mold a kid into a Big Ten starter with the traits Petras possesses.
From what I’ve seen of @spencerpetras he looks like a Phillip Rivers starter kit. KOK could massage some of the mechanics but a big time armlike Stanley.
— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) December 15, 2017
It’s no wonder Iowa made a big push once Petras re-opened his recruitment following an Oregon State coaching change. The Hawkeyes initially reached out weeks ago, Moayed said. O’Keefe visited Petras. Iowa offered last week. Petras took an official visit on Sunday.
It appeared that Iowa was going to lose out on Petras, like so many other signal callers in this class, right after his visit. Petras told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune on Tuesday that he was sticking with the Beavers.
He also told Blair Sanderson, of Rivals, his mind wasn’t made up and he was praying about the decision.
“He had a good idea at one point he was leaning towards Iowa,” Moayed said. “He just wanted to not make an emotional decision right away and so he sort of sat on it for a little bit, prayed on it, and then saw this was a fit for him.”
By the end of the week, Petras knew he wanted to head to the Midwest.
“I am very excited to join the Hawkeye family and am grateful to move on from a great high school football culture at MC to join the great culture with the Hawkeye family,” said Petras in his commitment tweet.
— Spencer Petras (@spencerpetras) December 15, 2017
Landing a quarterback was a problem in this class. Every player Iowa offered went somewhere else and options were dwindling. It looked as if Petras was heading elsewhere too until he reversed course.
Now, Petras joins starter Nate Stanley, a sophomore, and Peyton Mansell, who redshirted this season, in the quarterback room. Junior Tyler Wiegers and sophomore Ryan Boyle are prime transfer candidates.
The Hawkeyes needed a quarterback in 2018 for depth purposes. Maybe the Hawkeyes found something more. Time will tell.
Right now, concluding the great quarterback chase is enough. Ending it with a prospect bursting with upside is a bonus.