Ann Arbor — The younger quarterbacks almost immediately began calling him “dad” because he already has a college degree and he’s not all that active on social media. Other teammates describe his serious nature and jokingly suggest he locks himself in his apartment and constantly studies after football practice.
Jake Rudock is a graduate-transfer quarterback from Iowa, and now he’s a record-setter at Michigan after throwing six touchdowns in the Wolverines’ victory at Indiana last Saturday.
He doesn’t care what anyone calls him as long as Michigan, which is 8-2, 5-1 Big Ten with two regular-season games remaining and still having a shot to win the Big Ten East Division, continues to win. The Wolverines are preparing to play at Penn State on Saturday before returning home to play rival Ohio State.
“That’s just a nickname I got pretty quick, I think it was more because I was older than everybody and I had graduated,” Rudock, a master’s student, said Tuesday after practice. “I wasn’t on social media as much as they were. I posted like one Instagram picture in the last 300 days, so that’s a problem for them.”
Rudock is the youngest of four and has always been driven to succeed in athletics and school. He plans to attend medical school once his football career ends.
“I’m generally pretty serious,” Rudock said. “I’ll mess around. I’ve always tried to be a little more mature. I’m the youngest in my family, so that might have something to do with it. Just growing up around my brother’s friends, my sister’s friends, my other brother, just trying to be more mature might have done that.”
His father, Bob Rudock, assures Jake has a sense of humor. It just isn’t typically on display because he takes football so seriously.
“He is an extremely funny kid,” Bob Rudock said in a telephone interview. “He remembers movie lines like you can’t believe. He’ll quote something from ‘Men in Black’ and ‘Step Brothers’. When he starts laughing, he can’t stop.
“He has a very good sense of humor and can be sarcastic as hell, but when it comes to football and school, he’s very serious. He’s kind of like I am, when it comes time to work, you work hard, when it comes to play, you play.”
Rudock shared the Big Ten co-offensive Player of the Week award this week with teammate Jehu Chesson for their performances in the Indiana game. Chesson caught four of Rudock’s Michigan single-game record six touchdown passes.
He threw touchdown passes on his three final pass attempts of the game, on a fourth-and-5 play at the end of regulation and then on passes in each of the two overtime periods, including the 25-yard game-winner to Amara Darboh.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who recruited Rudock to Michigan after he started the last two seasons at Iowa, praised him after the Indiana game, saying the Wolverines, whose rush defense had been gouged, wouldn’t have won it without his precision play.
His teammates have said the same, adding that the offense is clicking because Rudock is now comfortable with the timing with his receivers and at ease in the offense. In the last two games he has thrown for 777 yards. Rudock also has wisely chosen when to run, and is showing off the quickness he developed playing baseball — he was a shortstop — at St. Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, where he led the football team to an unbeaten season and national title as a senior.
“I told you guys a few weeks back that I thought Jake was a great quarterback,” fifth-year senior center Graham Glasgow said. “Even with him stepping up to the plate, throwing for all these yards, all these touchdowns, having great games, he’s still the same fantastic game manager.
“He’s just unbelievably smart. I think it was just getting accustomed to the guys that are around him, and accustomed to the wide receivers, and now that’s starting to show, and I’m really happy for Jake.”
Harbaugh has described Rudock as “unflappable” and having “ice in his veins.” His teammates have talked about his consistent demeanor.
“It’s nice to have that type of guy leading the team instead of somebody who comes into the huddle screaming, or somebody who seems like he needs to be screamed at,” Glasgow said.
Rudock is steadying in the huddle. He doesn’t flinch, and his teammates have responded to that approach.
“The biggest thing is he’s consistent,” right tackle Erik Magnuson said. “If he throws an interception or he throws a touchdown, he’s the same guy. He’s not going to melt down. He’s very consistent in the way he acts and the way he leads.
“He’s a very serious person. He takes football very seriously. He’s a leader in the film room, he’s a leader on the field. He’s not somebody you’re going to see after the game on a Saturday night at a bar messing around or anything like that. That’s not who he is.”
And who Rudock is becoming is a game manager who is now hitting on deep passes. He said completing one has led to confidence and more success. But six touchdown passes seemed unthinkable and a long way from the season opener when he had three interceptions.
“Never thought it would happen.” Rudock said of the single-game record. “There’s so much great history here. It’s just amazing to be able to put your name in a book somewhere. But records don’t mean anything unless you get the win at the end of the day, and that’s what I’m most happy about.”
After Rudock’s performance against Rutgers Harbaugh said the graduate-transfer looked like an “NFL-type quarterback”. Rudock still gets the pregame Harbaugh treatment of being smacked in the chest and shoulder pads and helmet
“He likes that,” said Rudock, laughingly referring to his coach and adding he sometimes likes the routine. “Sometimes you’re kind of shell-shocked. He’s fiery, he’s energetic.”
While Rudock seems to be all business, his father said this has been an enjoyable season.
“I would say he really feels appreciated, especially by the coaches and the teammates and really appreciated by the fans,” Bob Rudock said. “That’s a big deal. He feels wanted and appreciated.
“Everything works out, and it worked out. But too bad he doesn’t have another year to be around coach Harbaugh.”