Iowa's Brody Brecht opens up on balancing football and baseball as a Hawkeye

IOWA CITY — After a long weekend in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Iowa's baseball team looked forward to getting some rest on Sunday night. The team played a double-header on Saturday and again early Sunday afternoon before making the trip back to Iowa City.

However, there wasn't much rest for freshman Brody Brecht.

He took what he described as a "quick nap" before his alarm clock signaled to him that he had football activities early Monday morning. That type of crammed schedule has become the norm for the Ankeny native who's balancing pitching in Iowa baseball's bullpen with competing for a starting wide receiver position on Iowa's football team.

MORE: Leistikow: Brody Brecht throws 100 mph but has big dreams in football, too

Coming out of Ankeny High School, Brecht was 77th-best prospect in last year's MLB draft, according to He could've been a high draft pick had it not been for the high financial demands he was asking teams for to sign him. Instead, he opted to play both baseball and football at Iowa.

Now, Brecht's schedule consists of juggling Iowa's ongoing baseball season with the football team's spring practice schedule. His balancing act has become a popular topic among both teams.

"Hats off to Brody because I struggle sometimes managing school and football," fellow receiver Arland Bruce IV said. "I can't even imagine two sports. He's done a great job. He's in the middle of a season and still practicing with us so that says a lot about him and his character." 

Iowa freshman Brody Brecht is a rare two-sport college athlete, playing both baseball and football.

On Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after Iowa's Tuesday morning football practice, Brecht was in a baseball uniform preparing for practice. He met with a few media members to discuss this spring from his vantage point.

"I knew it'd be tough," Brecht said of his two-sport grind. "I've played a lot of sports in my life but not at this level, obviously. When I first started, it was really tough but I've gotten the hang of it now. It's gotten a lot better but it is tough."

Before the season, Perfect Game rated Brecht the No. 1 MLB prospect in the Big Ten Conference in his class of 2024. Later on, Brecht made an early impression on the field when he hit 100.7 mph during a live session at an Iowa practice. So far this season, Brecht is 1-2 with a 4.22 ERA and 19 strikeouts in seven appearances.

Brecht practices with the football team on non-baseball gamedays. On gamedays, he attends football practices but doesn't participate. In addition, he attends every meeting in both sports. He credits both coaching staffs for working in harmony to ensure that he's not overextended physically or mentally. 

But Brecht made it clear where his priorities stand at this point in the calendar. 

"I'm prioritizing baseball right now," Brecht said. "Obviously I'm not going to be able to be 100% in the football drills so I'm taking a little step back there. But once fall picks up, then I'm taking a step back in baseball and focusing on football so it's just balancing the times and just trying to give it my all."

Brody Brecht (11) was a multi-sport star at Ankeny High. Now, he's attempting to do the same at the University of Iowa.

Brecht was a summer enrollee last year and then broke his thumb during a blocking drill in August training camp. Those factors set back his football development some, but after healing toward the end of the year and a strong start to spring practice, it appears he's making strides.

One player in particular who's helping Brecht hone his receiver craft is senior cornerback and fellow Ankeny native Riley Moss. 

"Me and Riley have been going at it," Brecht said. "We've been doing some one-on-ones together and working on releases. (Last season) going up against him, Matt (Hankins) every day makes you a lot better. It really makes you think about what you're doing and how can I improve." 

There's only so much movement Brecht can make on Iowa's depth chart right now but wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland said that Brecht (listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds) will be squarely in the mix at the "X" (outside receiver position) when baseball concludes and he's a full football participant.

"There's no question in my mind," Copeland said. "Brody's at every meeting and he's at every practice that he can be at. I don't see any (way) where he doesn't at least put himself in a position to earn an opportunity to compete for that job come fall." 

Iowa pitcher Brody Brecht is making strides on the baseball field during his freshman year, says head coach Rick Heller.

On the baseball field, Brecht's development has been just as much mental as physical. Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller said right now opposing hitters aren't swinging early in their at-bats, forcing Brecht to throw strikes. As a result, Brecht's focusing on commanding and locating his fastball early in the count so he can be in better control throughout the at-bat. 

Mentally, he's adjusting to the shorter leashes a pitcher gets in college versus high school. At Ankeny, Brecht could easily work his way out of bad situations by overpowering hitters with his fastball. In college, where lineups are much deeper and talented, he knows compounding mistakes will get him pulled early. 

"There's been times I've been taken out and thought, 'I could've worked through that,'" Brecht said. "But that's part of the game: Don't make a mess or else someone's going to have to clean it up for you. 

"It's kind of an adjustment. We're actually learning how to pitch out here; we can't just throw the ball hard. We have to locate, hit with our off-speed (pitches) and all of that." 

Heller liked what he saw in Brecht's last outing against Central Michigan on March 26. He pitched two scoreless innings and struck out four batters. According to Heller, the plan is to pitch him again on Wednesday when Iowa travels to Bradley. 

"It's just trying to get him to buy into our mental system for pitchers and hitters," Heller said. "Basically everyone has 15 seconds between pitches. He gets five seconds to analyze what happened, the next five are to get his body back under control and the last part is trusting the plan and letting his talent and training take over. 

"Both he, (fellow freshman pitcher Marcus Morgan) and the other new guys go through the same things. It's nothing new. I think they've all handled it well and they're getting better every day." 

More:How does Iowa football's offense break out? Hawkeye wide receivers could hold the key

Brecht is eyeing a similar college career to former Notre Dame athlete Jeff Samardzija, who caught 179 passes for 2,593 yards and 27 touchdowns during the mid-2000s and went on to a 13-year MLB pitching career.

After an early adjustment period, Brecht is laser focused on achieving his goal of scoring touchdowns in the fall and striking out batters in the spring.

"My goal is to do two sports for as long as I can," Brecht said. "Eventually, one day I'll have to pick one but hopefully that's not for a couple of years or so." 

Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at