CLOSE

Jamie Pollard on a variety of topics, including: No one’s poor-mouthing the Big 12 these days, and that’s the way it should be. Randy Peterson, rpeterson@dmreg.com

LINKEDIN 2 COMMENTMORE

When the Register called Jirehl Brock for this interview, he didn't pick up at first.

Then, five minutes later, he called back.

"Sorry about that. I was in a pretty intense game of Fortnite," Brock chuckled.

Fortnite, the online multiplayer platform taking over the video game world, is just about the only way Brock gets to relax nowadays, he said. He's in the middle of studying for finals before school gets out next week.

And, oh yeah: He's also a four-star running back, one of the Midwest's most sought-after college prospects.

That requires near-constant deliberation, weighing pros and cons of different schools, trying to make sure the biggest choice of his life is the right choice. It also requires maintaining regular contact with coaches pursuing him. Lots of texting, lots of phone calls. The other night, Brock was FaceTiming with Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck.

He fully appreciates the process. But, having been knee deep in recruitment since Iowa gave him his first offer last March, Brock is just about ready for it to be done.

"Can’t wait until it gets over," he said.

Brock is in the home stretch. He took an official visit to Northwestern last weekend. He'll take three more official visits to Minnesota (June 8), Iowa State (June 18) and Iowa (June 22) before likely making a decision in late summer. He originally planned to visit Purdue on May 26, but he has canceled that visit.

"The ball’s kind of in my corner with everything. I make the decisions now," Brock said. "With the visits, it’s kind of just another evaluation — more than a one-day (unofficial visit)."

Iowa and Iowa State have had Brock at or near the top of their 2019 big boards for a long time. The top-200 prospect would be a significant get for either program, becoming an instant headliner for their 2019 recruiting classes.

After discussing Fortnite for a bit, Brock went in-depth with the Register regarding Iowa and Iowa State — on everything from their offensive styles, to his opinions of the new running backs coaches, to his potential immediate roles with each team and more.

Brock also opened up on his unique family dynamic, discussing his one-of-a-kind relationship with his mother and how a "lonely" childhood helped make him the young man he is today.

Why did Iowa and Iowa State make his final list of schools?

On Iowa: "They were the first team to offer me back on March 5, 2017, when I was still a sophomore, 15 years old. They’ve been here since the beginning and they’re one reason why I’ve had the success with recruiting that I have had."

On Iowa State: "(Running backs) coach (Nate) Scheelhaase and I have had a pretty good relationship because he was the person that offered me to Illinois. We’ve had a really good relationship since. Coach (Matt) Campbell, I mean, he’s just a great guy. He’s been to one of my basketball games. People really think highly of him, and I do as well. He came in to a team that wasn’t so good — they had a few rough years — but I really do think that he’s turning the program around to something that it hasn’t been in a while."

What does he think of Iowa and Iowa State’s running backs coaches?

On Iowa’s Derrick Foster: "He’s a new guy, but I think he’s a guy that’s going to come in and fit in well. He’s been there since, I think, January now, so he’s been around everybody. When I’ve talked to him, he said that he loves it and wouldn't want to be anywhere else. He’s a really good guy. When I went there for the spring game, it was the first time meeting him. I kind of just had my conversation with him, and (he went over) what his plan is and everything. He comes from a football background, but he also is just a really good guy to talk to."

On Iowa State’s Nate Scheelhaase: "Obviously (he’s) kind of a new guy to coaching the running back position. But, you’d have to think, he played quarterback and quarterbacks are known to know every position. I feel like he’s going to bring something to the running backs — like, open their eyes about something else that could possibly help them out."

What about Iowa and Iowa State’s offenses appeals to him?

On Iowa: "It’s kind of similar to what I do in high school already. It’s a between-the-tackles offense, and then get to the outside occasionally. That’s kind of what I’m looking for, but I’ll adapt to anything. The fact that they’re similar to what I do here at Quincy is something else that I’ll look at."

On Iowa State: "It’s different. When you run in an offense where there’s 11 people in the box every play, it’s kind of hard to maneuver around that. Looking at how open their offense is kind of makes it relieving."

What have coaches told him about his role with the team?

On Iowa: "Pretty sure it would mostly look like a redshirt freshman year and then playing as a redshirt (the following) year. But we really haven't talked about that as much. I know, right now, they’re going through some injuries at the running back position. You never know, with injuries and everything like that. It could change."

On Iowa State: "(They’ve compared me to David Montgomery) a little bit — kind of personality-wise and just how we run the ball. They really haven't put anything on when I would play and anything like that. I’m guessing I’ll find out more when I go on my official there."

What will be his ultimate deciding factor?

"It’s going to be kind of an I’ll know it when I feel it. When you’re in college, you’re not going to be at home, you’re not going to be able to go back home a lot. So I’m just going to find a place where I feel like I’m at home and I feel like I’m in a place where I can stay at for six months straight without going back home, you know what I mean?"

Brock went on to say he was able to see a lot of Iowa — both on the athletic and academic side — during the day leading up to the Hawkeyes' open spring practice. He looks forward to getting that kind of exposure to Iowa State and Ames during his official visit, as well as adding to his Iowa experience during his Hawkeye official visit, too.

What is he hoping to learn from officials to Iowa and Iowa State?

"I really don’t know what to expect. I didn't know what to expect last weekend when I went to Northwestern. What I left there thinking was it’s kind of just a way of getting a feel of more of the team, how most players on the team are. Just getting to know them more and getting to know the coaches a lot more, too. It’s easier to do that in 48 hours than it is on a one-day visit."

How Brock's family made him the young man he is today

One constant throughout Brock's recruitment has been his mother, Resha Brock — Jirehl's rock, his "other half." Jirehl's voice takes on a whole new warmth as soon as his mom is brought up. It's the kind of voice you pair with a smile.

"My mom has been there through thick and thin," he said. "My dad has, too, but me and my mom have a different kind of bond."

While she's there for constant moral support, Brock's mom isn't exactly an expert when it comes to football or recruiting, he said with a laugh.

For instance: When Brock was FaceTiming with Fleck the other night, his mom at first thought it was Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm.

"I was like, 'I’m glad you didn't say that to his face,'" Brock quipped. "She’s all new to this. She really didn't start liking football until I started playing it in high school — she didn't even want me to play in high school.

"But I bet her mind has changed a little bit now."

Brock is the youngest of his siblings by 10 years. By the time his parents divorced when he was 11, Brock's siblings were in their 20s. He was the only kid still home, bearing the brunt of the effect of his parents' split.

He called it a "lonely" childhood — one where he needed to grow up faster than most kids.

"For a while, it was just either my dad and me or my mom and me," Brock said. "But my dad got remarried. So now it’s my dad, my stepmom and me, and then it’s my mom and my grandma and me."

Although the divorce was hard, Brock said he's never lacked support or love from either side of the family. Everyone on both sides shows up to cheer for Brock at all of his football games and basketball games.

He said his childhood helped him gain a unique perspective on life that he carries with him every day.

"I feel like it’s helped me out more as a person than as an athlete," Brock said. "There’s people that go through a lot worse than what I have, and I can see that.

"I know that there’s a lot more to life than just football."

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 mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

LINKEDIN 2 COMMENTMORE