Football

FALL CAMP: Backup quarterback battle heating up during fall camp

Iowa State quarterbacks Hunter Dekkers (left) and Ashton Cook throw the ball during open spring practice at Gilbert High School Friday, April 15, 2022, in Ames, Iowa. © Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

Despite losing perhaps the greatest quarterback in Iowa State history after last season, there have never been many questions left unanswered about the future of that room.

It was made clear early in spring camp that redshirt sophomore Hunter Dekkers would take over as the program’s starting quarterback.

That meant everyone else would be fighting for second-string, and that leads us to the one central unanswered question in Iowa State’s quarterback’s room.

Who will be Iowa State’s backup quarterback in the event of an emergency?

“It’s day to day,” Iowa State quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon said on Tuesday. “The promising thing is that there’s been great competition with everybody else that’s been getting reps. That’s everybody from Ashton (Cook) to Rocco (Becht) to Nate Glantz, and I’m excited about that group because they work at it every single day.”

At this point, only one of those players Gordon mentioned has experienced putting on an Iowa State uniform on a Saturday afternoon at Jack Trice Stadium.

That distinction belongs to redshirt freshman Ashton Cook, the son of former Iowa and NFL Pro Bowl tight end Marv Cook. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Iowa City native starred at Regina Catholic as a prep, twice earning all-state honors along with leading his team to a Class 1A state semifinals appearance as a junior before winning the title as a senior in 2020.

While Cook has never seen live action, it could be argued he has a leg up in the competition with a year in the program already under his belt.

“He hadn’t had a ton of reps in last year’s training camp,” Gordon said. “Really the spring was really slow for him early on. If you asked him, he probably started a little bit slow. He just kept coming. He kept getting better and learning more and getting more confident, more comfortable in what we were doing. By the end of the spring, he was a completely different player than what he was in spring practice one and two.”

The most highly-touted member of the trio competing for the backup job is also the youngest. True freshman Rocco Becht joined the program in the spring and the former four-star recruit has pushed his way into the battle for on-field action.

The 6-foot-1, 199-pound Wesley Chapel, Fla. native was considered the No. 13 pro-style quarterback in the 2022 class by Rivals, and is the son of former NFL tight end, Anthony Becht.

Becht’s play style has drawn comparisons to the aforementioned former Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, with an ability to keep plays alive inside and outside of the pocket.

Obviously, that is not a comparison of abilities as, again, Purdy might have been the best quarterback Iowa State has ever had, but Becht brings a set of tools that resemble the former four-year starter in Ames.

“If you’re gonna compare him to someone, probably more like Brock,” Gordon said. “He’s kind of built the same way and his skill set is very similar. He probably has some work to do for sure as far as becoming the runner that Brock was. Brock was a really good runner when he had the ball in his hands. He brings a nice skill set to the table where he can be out of the pocket and be in the pocket and do a lot of things.”

The last player in this equation is Glantz, the 2020 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year, who led Iowa Western to an 18-2 record while twice being named to the All-Region team. The Omaha native led Bellevue West to a Class A state championship as a senior in 2019.

His father, Robert, played football at Nebraska.

“Man, he’s a guy that has a strong arm,” Gordon said. “He’s a really good runner when he has a chance to pull the football down and run with it. He’s capable of extending plays and turning a broken play into something big.”

The battle for the distinction of being Iowa State’s No. 2 quarterback will likely go all the way up until the Cyclones open the season against Southeast Missouri State on Sept. 3 at Jack Trice Stadium.

Until then, it will be the only real question facing Iowa State’s quarterback’s room during fall camp.

“They’ve done a really good job of taking what we’ve installed, and having some good things happen,” Gordon said. “Some bad things happening, too, but learning from it and going to the next day, and responding and coming back and competing. I’m excited about that group right now.”

Jared Stansbury

administrator

Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.

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