IOWA CITY, Iowa — Jirehl Brock combines the speed, power, size and elusiveness that has college football coaches salivating, and the Quincy, Ill., running back put all of those traits on display in one incredible play against Rock Island last September.
On a run up the middle, Brock cut sharply to his left, broke free up the left sideline and drove into a defensive back. The hit sent Brock’s opponent flying, as well as his helmet. Brock was still standing, unfazed.
“He just does everything well,” Quincy coach Rick Little said. “A lot of people ask me about him — he’s not one certain type of back. He’s a downhill runner that can make you miss in a phone booth. He can finish runs and be explosive. He’s got great hands and athleticism out of the backfield.
“He’s just one of those guys that can fit into any system, and he’s just a joy to coach and watch.”
— Matt Randazzo (@MattRandazzo) September 23, 2017
The offers are coming in rapidly for Brock (5-foot-11, 200 pounds), but Iowa was the first to put one on the table back in March 2017. The Hawkeyes are in good standing, as is instate rival Iowa State. Several other regional schools such as Illinois, Missouri, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, Northwestern and Cincinnati also have eyes for Brock. And with a rare combination of gifts that draws comparisons to former Iowa Doak Walker Award winner Shonn Greene and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, it’s understandable.
Brock was the Quincy Herald-Whig player of the year last fall as a junior after rushing for 1,588 yards at 7.6 yards per carry and 23 touchdowns. According to the Herald-Whig, he set the single-season school rushing record and needs just 577 yards to break Quincy’s career rushing mark. Brock also has the school’s career mark with 52 touchdowns, including a single-season record 29 as a sophomore in 2016. He ran for 304 yards and 6 touchdowns against Rock Island in 2016 and owns the record for longest interception return in school history with a 100-yard effort.
Sure, Brock plays both sides of the ball effectively, but he’s 100 percent a running back at the next level.
Brock has made five visits to Iowa since his scholarship offer and four to Iowa State. Right now, the rivals appear neck-and-neck for his services, although Brock said no decision has been made.
“Some would say Iowa and Iowa State would be the favorites, but that’s probably because I’ve visited them the most,” Brock said. “I’ve had more opportunities to go to those two than any other. But to me, really no one plays a favorite on my part.
“I want to make a decision by at least football if not the beginning of the season. I really can’t rush it. Rushing it would probably lead into picking the wrong school for me.”
Proximity and relationship-building play in both schools’ favor. Quincy is located about 25 miles south of the Iowa border along the Mississippi River. That’s about a 2-hour drive to Iowa City and about 4 hours southeast of Ames. The only school located closer to Quincy than Iowa is Missouri, but the drive is easier to Iowa City. Illinois’ campus is about 3 hours from Quincy.
With the Hawkeyes offering first, their recruiting diligence, their coaching stability and success, Iowa is in a good spot for Brock.
“I believe their chances are really good,” Little said. “I’m not going to put a percentage on anybody. They’re a great program with a great coaching staff that’s been intact. As a coach, certainly I think in fairness to Jirehl, it’s one of those things where it’s got to be his decision, his family’s decision.
“But there’s certain things that I’d say, ‘This is what I’d look for.’ Certainly coaching continuity, tradition, atmosphere, closeness to home if that’s something that you long for, it checks all those boxes. There’s other schools that have done a nice job, too, in pursing him. I just think it’s the way that Iowa goes about the relationship with him, their professionalism, it really stands out in how they’re handling this.”
Brock said distance isn’t the primary factor in choosing a school.
“My parents and my family, we’re used to traveling,” Brock said. “They don’t have a problem with me going to a bigger school somewhere else if they can still travel and come see me.”
Brock hopes to gain 10 pounds and weigh 210 by the start of football season. He works in a wing-T offense and often sets up within a few yards of the line of scrimmage. At Iowa, only a fullback lines up that close to the offensive line.
With his blend of natural and acquired skills, Brock has the perfect build for an Iowa running back. With his experience in a tight formation, Brock would have no problem transitioning into Iowa’s tradition inside-and-outside zone. His combination of agility and aggression are made for Big Ten football. The comparisons with many top Big Ten running backs are apt.
“Yeah, I can see myself in that type of offense,” Brock said.
“I know it’s always tough to compare him to guys who are established in the league, but I see a lot of similarities in a lot of backs that are successful at the professional and college level that he just possesses,” Little said. “There’s just not anything that he doesn’t do well. I think you look at where are some of his weaknesses.
“He’s always going to improve his game, there’s no doubt about that. But it seems like he checks all the boxes you’re looking for. This type of back, well he possesses that. If you’re looking for this type of back, he can become that guy, too.”
— Veinti_Uno 🏀🏈💥💯 (@jirehlbrock) March 5, 2017