Ricky Stanzi has an interesting theory about why recruiters didn't think he deserved to play in the Big Ten.
"I wasn't good enough, probably," he said.
The quarterback at Lake Catholic High School in Mentor, Ohio, planned on going to Miami (Ohio). Other Mid-American Conference schools checked in, too - Akron, Toledo, Bowling Green - as well as other small-conference schools.
It wasn't until after Thanksgiving of his senior year - a period usually reserved for the recruiting dregs - that Iowa offered him a scholarship.
"Fortunately for me, Iowa saw something they thought they could build on," he said.
The finished product is stunning - entering Saturday night's game at Arizona Stadium, Stanzi is one of the nation's most successful football players.
Iowa's senior quarterback is 20-4 as a starter. He hasn't lost a game he started and finished since Nov. 1, 2008, a span of 14 straight wins.
"I'm just one guy on a team that's trying to do his role to help out," Stanzi said. "It's a team game. That's basically what it breaks down to. We have a very good team."
The Hawkeyes lost twice last year - when an injury knocked Stanzi out against Northwestern, with the Hawkeyes leading 10-0, and when he couldn't start against Ohio State.
He beat Georgia Tech last year in the Orange Bowl.
"Ultimately, a quarterback's job is to move the team and win games," coach Kirk Ferentz said. "That's what quarterbacks get evaluated on. It really doesn't matter what your attack is."
Stanzi won't make a statistician swoon.
He has thrown 34 touchdowns and 25 interceptions, a ratio that's average at best.
He has completed 58.0 percent of his passes; by contrast, the active career leader, Houston's Case Keenum, sits at 68.9.
His 4,806 career passing yards are about one-third of Keenum's pass-happy, nation-leading total.
Still, UA co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown is concerned about the 6-foot-4-inch, 230-pounder.
"It's a nightmare watching the guy," he said. "He releases the ball so quick. He makes such quick, intelligent decisions. You can see a guy going through his progressions, through his reads. He knows exactly what to do with it.
"He throws a tremendous ball. The tight spiral he's got on it and velocity, boy …
"He's a big-time player. I'm sure he's going to be a big-time prospect in the NFL."
Ferentz joked that he's often asked questions about the other star quarterbacks in the Big Ten - Michigan's Denard Robinson and Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor - while he has his own star.
Stanzi doesn't mind "being overlooked or not being on the cover of magazines," he said, as long as the winning continues.
It's part of the process.
"The main thing for any quarterback when they go out there Saturday, they want to have confidence in what they're doing," he said. "They want respect from their teammates and their coaches. They want a mutual respect for the coaches and players.
"The wins and losses seem to fall secondary."
HE's A WINNER
Ricky Stanzi's record as an Iowa starter
Stanzi's win streak in games he has started and finished since Nov. 1, 2008
• What: Iowa at Arizona
• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
• TV: ESPN
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)