Where do Iowa and Iowa State stand in the race for 4-star RB Jirehl Brock?
Iowa and Iowa State recently wrapped up a head-to-head recruiting battle for in-state linebacker Jack Campbell, who has already committed to a school and will make his decision public this Saturday.
And soon, the two programs could wind up in another one-on-one recruiting battle for another Midwest 2019 priority: four-star running back Jirehl Brock, from Quincy, Illinois.
Iowa was first to offer Brock last March after his breakout sophomore season. And when Iowa is the first offer, you know the Hawkeyes really like the prospect. But since then, Iowa State and nine other schools have joined the party, and Iowa State has made it crystal clear that Brock is a priority as well.
In a phone call with the Register on Wednesday, Brock said Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota were currently recruiting him the hardest. Michigan and Nebraska have expressed recent interest as well, he said, and Michigan running backs coach Jay Harbaugh is expected to come watch Brock this spring.
A consensus top-200 prospect, Brock has been on a tear since his sophomore year and was recently rated the class’ No. 10 running back by the 247Sports Composite. He’s got a sturdy 6-foot frame that supported 196 pounds this year and can support much more. He pairs that strength with good speed and agility to form a legitimate Power Five talent. He rushed for 1,588 yards and 23 touchdowns this season.
In other words: He would be a significant get for the Hawkeyes or Cyclones, who are thought to be the favorites at this point.
"He just does everything well," Quincy head coach Rick Little said. "I know that’s probably easy to say. (He’s) explosive. He can be a downhill runner and he can make you miss in a phone booth, but he’s not a finesse guy. He’s a guy that can juke you out of your shoes but he can also be physical and deliver a blow.
"He does some of those ‘wow’ things where you look to your fellow coaches and say, ‘Wow, did that just happen?’ And he makes it look routine."
Brock said he’s in no huge rush to make a decision. He’s visiting Purdue this weekend, as well as Indiana and Northwestern later in April.
Here’s a school-by-school breakdown of Brock’s recruitment:
Brock said he's talked to Iowa the most of all his interested schools because it was first to offer. Levar Woods has been the point man for Brock’s recruitment, although Kirk and Brian Ferentz are involved as well.
One of the most important factors in his decision, Brock said, will be teams' coaching stability. Iowa is all set in that department.
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"Their coaching staff has been there forever," Brock said. "Coach (Kirk) Ferentz, I mean, it feels like he's been there for 80 years, you know what I mean? It’s really good to know if you're going to a place that the coach is still going to be there when you’re there."
Brock also said Iowa’s history of strong offensive linemen appeals to him.
"It’s shown that they’ve produced really big and good offensive linemen forever," he said. "That’s what you need as a running back — you want your linemen to be big and helpful. You can’t really run the ball without a good O-line."
Brock has visited Iowa twice, most recently for the Penn State game Sept. 23. He said his basketball schedule got in the way of him visiting Iowa's junior days, and that he's working on a future visit date.
"Iowa really did their homework," Little said. "I don't want to say they were the first ones to notice him, but certainly the first ones to offer him. I think there’s a special place there for Iowa with Jirehl and time will tell."
The Cyclones offered Brock about a month and a half after Iowa in late April of his sophomore year. They’ve pursued him full-tilt ever since. Matt Campbell has made him an obvious priority for this class.
"Coach Campbell is a really big key for them because he’s just so down to earth," Brock said. "Most head coaches probably won’t talk to you as much as coach Campbell does. He’s a guy that texts me, texts my mom, texts my dad. He just makes sure that he talks to us all."
Another check in the Cyclones’ column? Running backs coach Nate Scheelhaase, who offered Brock last May when he was still on staff at Illinois. The two formed a strong relationship, and that relationship carried over with Scheelhaase now at Iowa State.
Brock said Iowa State sees him as a running back in the same mold of David Montgomery, who Brock met and spoke with during his junior day visit to Ames.
"(Scheelhaase) has just shown me what I could do in their offense," Brock said. "He showed me my film compared to David Montgomery’s film and showed me how similar our game is and how I would fit in the offense that they run."
Brock has visited Iowa State three times, most recently for the Feb. 24 junior day.
Illinois’ interest in Brock didn’t dip at all when Scheelhaase left. Running backs coach Thad Ward has been in regular contact.
"He's just been really preaching to try to keep all the Illinois guys in Illinois,” Brock said.
Lovie Smith has also gotten involved in Brock’s recruitment and has come to see him at Quincy.
"With Illinois, Lovie is obviously an impressive coach," Little said. "And then I think you look at some of the things that they’re doing — even the new renovations. It’s kind of an arms race in college football and trying to keep up with the Joneses.
"I think it’s one of those deals where, for Jirehl, it’s going to come down to a fit and it’s also going to come down to relationships. And I would say that they’ve done a very good job creating a relationship with him, as well."
Little said both Illinois and Minnesota have discussed early playing time with Brock.
Brock said he’s paying attention to the success Illinois is enjoying in its 2019 class — landing five-star quarterback Isaiah Williams and four-star athlete Marquez Beason this month. But he said he isn’t going to let other prospects’ decisions affect his own.
Brock last visited Illinois for its game versus Indiana on Nov. 11.
The Boilermakers only offered in mid-January, but they’ve made a quick push and secured an unofficial visit this weekend from Brock.
Running backs coach Chris Barclay and head coach Jeff Brohm have been most involved in Brock’s recruitment to Purdue.
"They’re aggressive, too," Little said. "Coach Brohm, looking at his body of work that he was able to do this year, that was very impressive as well. All these guys we’re talking about, I think you can see great things to come with all the schools, including Illinois."
Minnesota offered Brock in late September.
As previously mentioned, Little said Minnesota coaches have discussed the possibility of early playing time with Brock.
Little said Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck has been heavily involved in the recruitment and has come down to see Brock at Quincy.
Brock doesn’t have any future plans scheduled for Minnesota at the moment.
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.