Iowa QB Spencer Petras fighting for job after offense underperforms

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — When a team is coming off a season in which it had one of the worst offenses in the nation, all options are open to fix it. For Iowa, that means opening the competition at quarterback.

The battle this spring is between veteran starter Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla.

Petras, who missed three games because of injury last season, has started 19 of the last 20 in which he’s appeared. Alex Padilla started three times last season.

“I think the good news is that we feel they’re both capable of playing really good football for us,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “And our goal is to try to get them to play a little bit better and everybody around them helping a little bit more. I think, really, that’s the story of our offense right now.”

The Hawkeyes, who were 10-4 and won the Big Ten West last season, were 121st out of 130 Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense, 101st in rushing and 109th in passing.

The struggles put focus on the quarterback position, and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz has been overseeing the competition.

“I’m focused on myself,” Petras said. “I’m focused on improving on the things that he wants me to, whether that be completion percentage, things like that. Any energy spent on anything else is a waste.”

Petras threw for 1,880 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions, completing 57.3% of his passes. Padilla threw for 636 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and completed 49.1%.

“I think the biggest thing, looking back, is that I’m too smart of a player to not take advantage of coverage better than I did,” Petras said. “For me, with how fast I can identify coverage, or how fast I can get the ball out of my hands, if I’m getting soft coverage where there are opportunities underneath, I need to take that more. I know how to attack coverage, so my completion percentage should be higher.”

Brian Ferentz, Kirk’s son, added quarterbacks coach to his duties in the offseason after Ken O'Keefe stepped away from his on-field role and former Wisconsin quarterbacks coach Jon Budmayr was added as an offensive analyst. The younger Ferentz took over as offensive coordinator in 2017, with O’Keefe working as the quarterbacks coach.

“Over the last five years, I can’t overstate how much I learned from Ken,” Brian Ferentz said, “and how much I appreciate that.”

“When Coach O’Keefe told us the move he wanted to make, my first thoughts were I wanted Brian to take over the quarterbacks, and so I’m really happy that’s what happened,” Petras said. “If there’s two people in the building who need to be on the same page, it’s the offensive coordinator and the quarterback. I think any time there’s a degree of separation there, there’s challenges that can be presented.”

Kirk Ferentz said the move made sense.

“The guy calling the plays is coaching the quarterback directly,” the head coach said. “Personally, I think if he can get that situation, it’s better. And Brian is more than capable of doing that job. And he knows our offense better than anybody, quite frankly.”

There are other questions on the offense.

Iowa must replace All-America center Tyler Linderbaum and guard Kyler Schott. Running back Tyler Goodson, who rushed for 1,151 yards last season, left for the NFL draft and will be replaced by a tandem of Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams.

The quarterback competition is something that will go on for a while. The Hawkeyes open against South Dakota State at home on Sept. 3.

“Everybody’s competing right now,” Kirk Ferentz said. “And on one hand, (Petras has) got an edge or things he does better than Alex. But I can flip it around saying there’s things that Alex can do a bit better, too. We’ll ride it out, see where it all goes. But we’ll get it figured out. And the good news is both guys are totally capable.”

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.