Oct. 8, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Jack Hockaday played quarterback at a small high school and converted to linebacker at the University of Iowa.
Sound familiar, Hawkeye football fans?
In 2000, a quarterback from South Dakota named Chad Greenway rushed for 1,320 yards and passed for 1,147 before making a name for himself around the Big Ten Conference and the National Football League.
Hockaday set an Illinois state record with 11,506 career total yards from scrimmage for Maroa-Forsyth High School, but he knew his future was on the other side of the ball.
“I felt I would be a defensive player all along,” Hockaday said. “My high school is a pretty small school so I did whatever I could. They needed me at quarterback, but they also needed me on defense. I felt like linebacker would be my position in college.”
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Hockaday has not played this season and UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said the staff would love to save his redshirt in 2015. Hockaday was on the travel roster the first four weeks of the season.
“Jack is a good athlete and a competitive guy,” Ferentz said. “He played well in August camp. He has made a good impression on us and taken to the position well. He has learned the basics and shows a good knack of knowing what he is doing as a linebacker. So far, so good, he is off to a positive start.”
“I felt I would be a defensive player all along. My high school is a pretty small school so I did whatever I could. They needed me at quarterback, but they also needed me on defense. I felt like linebacker would be my position in college.”
UI freshman linebacker
So are the Hawkeyes. Iowa is 5-0 overall, 1-0 in the Big Ten Conference and ranked No. 22 in the country. The top two tacklers on the team are linebackers (Cole Fisher with 47 and Josey Jewell with 38) and Hockaday is soaking in everything he can from the veterans.
“There is a lot more to learn playbook-wise, but the older guys have helped me out a lot with learning the defense,” Hockaday said. “If I have a question about a call I will go up to the older guys and they help me. It has been a great transition.”
Hockaday earned first-team all-state honors as a junior and senior for the Trojans and as a senior was named County Player of the Year. His versatility was on display during his four-year career when he lined up at defensive back, linebacker, quarterback, and wide receiver. During his senior season, Hockaday made 106 tackles with seven forced fumbles and six interceptions.
Academically, Hockaday is considering a degree in business. He was a four-year member of the Honor Roll in high school.
“My goal is to learn the defense and be as knowledgeable as I can so if I don’t play this year I can go into next year well prepared,” he said.
Hockaday grew up in Forsythe, Illinois, a town of 3,500 people located 45 miles southwest of Champaign, the home of the University of Illinois. The Hawkeyes and Illinois meet Saturday inside Kinnick Stadium with an 11:01 a.m. (CT) kickoff.
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