By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Nate Stanley has an opportunity to join rarified air in 2019, but the University of Iowa quarterback isn’t putting the cart in front of the horse.
Right now, the Academic All-Big Ten honoree is busy studying for high marks in genetics, a clinical exercise physiology class, and other courses that will aid him in earning a degree in health and human physiology with a minor in psychology.
Spring semester is typically time for University of Iowa football student-athletes to tackle a heavier course load. Stanley, a 6-foot-4, 242-pound senior-to-be quarterback is no different. But in the weeks leading up to the start of his final spring practice, he has also had time to remain acquainted with the Hawkeyes’ football playbook.
“Obviously, the longer you are in (the playbook), the more comfortable you will feel with it,” Stanley said. “Being able to do it for the third season — that comfort on the field is raised a lot. I feel comfortable and confident with what has been going on this offseason out on the field and in the field room.”
Already a two-time permanent team captain, Stanley will have an opportunity to join former teammate Josey Jewell as the only three-time captains in school history.
“There is always room to improve as a leader and the coaches push us to continue to grow as leaders,” Stanley said. “I want to continue to grow vocally. There is always room to improve, whether it be vocal leadership or finding new ways to connect with people.”
Stanley led the Iowa offense to an average of 31.2 points per game in 2018. The native of Menomonie, Wisconsin, completed 59.3 percent of his pass attempts while throwing for 2,852 yards and 26 touchdowns.
The Hawkeyes finished the season 9-4 after a 27-22 win over Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl where Stanley completed 21-of-31 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. When you add Iowa’s 27-20 win over Boston College in the 2017 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Stanley is now 2-0 as a starting quarterback in bowl games.
The last Hawkeye to win three in a row was Ricky Stanzi from 2008-10 (Outback, Orange, Insight).
Stanley enters his senior season with 5,351 passing yards (ninth in Iowa history) and 52 touchdowns (fourth). The number he is working to improve is his career completion percentage of 57.7 percent.
“I have been in the high 50s the last two years, I would like to get that up in the mid 60s,” Stanley said. “That is something I have talked to (quarterbacks) coach (Ken) O’Keefe about.”
When the Hawkeyes open the 2019 season Aug. 31 against Miami (Ohio), it will mark the 27th consecutive start for Stanley. It will also mark the start of a third season of him working alongside O’Keefe and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz.
“It’s not only the comfort of knowing the offense, it’s the comfort of being able to approach them with different ideas,” Stanley said.
The graduation of leading receiver Nick Easley, as well as the early departure of tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson to the NFL means Stanley will need to find other ways to distribute a combined 140 receptions.
“It might not be as different as a lot of people might think,” Stanley said.
Iowa’s spring practice begins March 27. If interested in purchasing tickets for the 2019 season, click HERE.