Jake Rudock a 'tremendous leader,' ex-coach says

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
"Yeah, I thought he had a little more fight in him," said Iowa DE Drew Ott about departing QB Jake Rudock.

It remains unclear if Jake Rudock will join Michigan's football team, but George Smith certainly knows better than most what kind of quarterback the Wolverines would gain.

Rudock is a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility remaining and has been granted his release from Iowa to transfer to any school. Rudock has visited Michigan, but it also remains unclear if the Big Ten would treat this as a typical intra-conference transfer requiring him to sit a season. Graduate transfers out of conference can play immediately.

Michigan has three scholarship quarterbacks currently participating in spring practice --Shane Morris, who will be a junior and has the only game experience; Wilton Speight, a redshirt freshman; and early enrollee freshman Alex Malzone. New coach Jim Harbaugh has made it clear he has no issue having a stable of quarterbacks with which to work.

Smith was the longtime coach at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., which during his 34 years won six state titles and two national championships. He coached Rudock and also John O'Korn, who is transferring to Michigan from Houston but must sit this fall before becoming eligible in 2016.

Smith said he has spoken several times to Rudock's father and has said the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Rudock would like to play at Michigan.

Rudock had a successful high school career, winning the Broward County Player of the Year award as a senior in 2011. O'Korn graduated from Aquinas two years later.

"He started 30 games for us, he was two-year starter as a junior and senior," Smith said of Rudock. "He holds a bunch of records, he's extremely smart. He was a backup in 2008 when we won our first national championship and was our quarterback when we won another.

"We played at Paul Brown Stadium, at Ohio State and at Cowboys Stadium, so he's been in big venues, and obviously he played at Iowa. We have 12 kids on NFL rosters, more than any high school in the country, so he's been around those types of players here and in college. He's a very intelligent young man, quiet, soft-spoken, and a tremendous leader."

Rudock was a two-year starter at Iowa and threw for 4,819 yards, 34 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, and Smith said he doesn't know what happened to his standing with the Hawkeyes. He is pre-med and made academic All-Big Ten the last two seasons. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz earlier this year released a depth chart listing C.J. Beathard ahead of Rudock.

Smith is similarly confused with O'Korn's situation at Houston. O'Korn was a starter in 2013 and set several program records. He slumped in 2014 and lost his starting job after five games. After sitting out this fall, he will have two years of eligibility at Michigan.

"Jake's a class act, as is John," Smith said in telephone interview with The Detroit News. "I don't care what system it is, Jake will have that figured out in a week. Jake is a thin kid, a long, lean type of guy, and throws a nice ball. John is about the same size, a little taller. Our offense played to him. He could run a little bit, and Jake could run, too."

What set Rudock apart was his locker room presence.

"We weren't an ordinary high school because we had so many good players," Smith said. "Jake and his center came up with this (motto). They said, 'You go, we go.' (Rudock) pointed to each guy and said that, 'You go, you go, we go.' That's up in our weight room now."