IOWA CITY — Three quarterbacks who hope to replace James Vandenberg behind center for the Iowa football program begin competition this week with a level playing field.

None has taken a snap for the Hawkeyes.

Vandenberg was the only quarterback in the Football Bowl Subdivision to take every snap for his team in 2012, leaving Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard on even terms as the race for the starting job begins with the start of the Hawkeyes’ offseason work at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“All of those guys can play, and they’re great guys,” Vandenberg said. “They’re hard-working guys who show up every day ready to work.”

Vandenberg calls each capable and talented.

“Jake has kind of been groomed for the spot and Cody is a juco guy, the oldest and the most mature guy in the room although he’s only been here a semester and a half,” Vandenberg said. “C.J. really has no idea what he’s doing yet, but you can see his natural talent. He can really throw the ball.”

Rudock, a 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman from Weston, Fla., was listed as Iowa’s second-team quarterback throughout the Hawkeyes’ 4-8 season.

The closest he came to seeing the field during a year which saw seven games decided by six points or less was late in the second half of a blowout loss to Penn State on Oct. 20. Ferentz eventually opted to stick with Vandenberg, saying he hoped it would help the Iowa offense develop consistency.

Iowa planned to and was successful in its attempt to redshirt the other two quarterbacks on the roster. Sokol is a 6-2 junior-college transfer from Phoenix and Beathard is 6-2 true freshman from Franklin, Tenn.

All three participated in practices throughout the season and coach Kirk Ferentz believes that experience far outweighs any snaps the trio would have taken during late-game minutes this fall.

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“I think that’s really overrated personally if it’s ‘garbage time.’ Any experience is good, but to say it will determine the fate of our season next year, I think there are a lot of things that are going to happen between now and then that will be far more important,” Ferentz said.

Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, who declined to discuss following Friday’s game whether he is weighing an early exit for the NFL, said each of three has shown improvement this fall.

“They’re a good group of guys who are all learning,” he said. “We’ve all had a lot of change to deal with this year and like the rest of us, they’re working hard to get it down. They’re all great athletes, smart players. It will be interesting to see what happens.”

Ferentz likes what he has seen from the three candidates to replace Vandenberg, who completes his career seventh on Iowa’s passing charts with 5,786 yards, completing 507-of-888 passes.

“We think we have three guys on campus that all have the potential to be good players,” Ferentz said. “Now, the competition begins and in some regards, it’s already started. We have until next August to figure it out. We’ll see how it goes.”

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