football Edit

Marco Lainez a great fit for Iowa

Four-star QB Marco Lainez should be a great fit for Iowa's offense.
Four-star QB Marco Lainez should be a great fit for Iowa's offense. (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Four-star quarterback Marco Lainez is headed to the University of Iowa. What are the Hawkeyes getting in the Class of 2023 standout from New Jersey? We caught up with his quarterback coach, Tony Racioppi, who has also worked with Nate Stanley, Spencer Petras and several other college and NFL QBs, to discuss Lainez and his skillset, the fit in Iowa's offense, and much more

Q: When did you first start working with Marco?

RACIOPPI: This would be year four. Obviously he's my high school quarterback (at The Hun) so he has me year round. That's kind of a special thing because usually when you train a guy, you have them in the off-season a couple days a week maybe, but he's with me 12 months a year.

Q: So you have seen him really grow up basically?

RACIOPPI: Yes, exactly, and he's made a huge jump. Last year's film was really good, but wasn't as consistent maybe, and then this year he made a huge jump. He went from being a very good player to being one of the top ten quarterbacks in the country in the 2023 class. There's no doubt in my mind that he is.

Q: How would you describe him?

RACIOPPI: He's a special kid. Physically, he has tremendous arm talent. He's able to throw with touch, throw with anticipation, and can read coverages great. He was at 82% for us on the season and only threw two picks, so he makes great decisions with the football.

Q: How about the fit at Iowa?

RACIOPPI: He fits in with what they want to do with the drop back game there and with taking shots downfield in the play action game and can stretch the field vertically as well as horizontally, but then he's also 6-3 and a good 225 pounds solid and can really run. He's got really quick feet and can be a threat in the run game, so they can do some more zone read stuff if they want to and then they've obviously always run bootlegs and nakeds but now he's more of a threat to run especially in short yardage and in the red zone.

Q: What do you think made up his mind on Iowa?

RACIOPPI: It's a great fit. I think, for him, he was looking at a place he can win, a place that's going to develop him as a player and a person, and it just checks all the boxes. He's a big team guy and he was able to spend time with the players when he went out there for the Illinois game and they just reminded him of himself. He's always hit it off with Coach O'Keefe and really enjoyed his time with Coach Ferentz too. Then no question the time he's spent with Spencer and Nate definitely helped just because they've lived the life that he's going to. They've been able to talk to him about their experience as a player instead of a coach and did a great job of being honest with him. He's a no frills kind of kid. He just wants to want to compete and win games.

Q: He has not only been around Stanley and Petras when they've been in to work with you, but also spent a lot of time with Kenny Pickett, who it seems like is a guy he models his game after a bit.

RACIOPPI: Yeah. I think one thing he's done really well is soak up everything from all the guys I have in all the time to work with me and I've had Kenny more than anyone over the years because we grew up in the same town and I've known him since he was seven years old. Marco has done a great job of learning from guys whether it's college guys like Spencer coming in last year or Nate during the NFL Draft or other NFL and college guys. Marco comes in every single time, so he's always working with guys, asking questions, and taking notes. He's a student of the game. He's kind of a throwback. He doesn't care about social media or posting videos. He just wants to work. He loves football and just wants to win and compete. I think Iowa fans are getting a kid that has a shot at being a multiyear starter and a multiple year captain too from a leadership standpoint.

Q: Does training with college and NFL guys like that accelerate everything for him?

RACIOPPI: Yeah, I think so. He's a hardworking kid that's smart and tough and he's all about the team. He's a cliché quarterback if that makes sense where all the things you're supposed to say about a kid, that's honestly who he is. He's done a great job of getting better and anybody I bring in here to work with he's learning from them. In two or three weeks, I'm going to have maybe the first pick in the draft working with me (Pickett) and he'll be here for the four or five months and Marco will be with us the whole time just soaking it up and making himself a better player.

Q: What do you see at the high school level that projects to college for him?

RACIOPPI: We're very similar at our high school where we're under center a lot with a lot of tight ends and fullbacks with a lot of play action and bootlegs a lot like Iowa. Obviously you don't want to live in the straight drop back game all of the time, but he can do that really well too. We didn't have to do it a lot of the time this year because we were 9-0, averaging 48 points a game on offense and only gave up five touchdowns all season on defense. I think you're bringing a kid in that has the pro-style strengths that you want in a Power Five quarterback, but at the same time he also has the athletic ability to extend plays and be a true threat in the run game, which they haven't had there in a long time.

A four-star quarterback, Lainez committed to Iowa over scholarship offers from Michigan State, Illinois, Pittsburgh, Maryland, West Virginia, Louisville, Princeton, Penn, Massachusetts, and Old Dominion.

As a junior, Lainez was 95/117 passing (81.2%) for 1,735 yards with 21 touchdowns and two interceptions as he led The Hun School to a 9-0 record in 2021.

See highlights from Lainez in his junior year in the video below.