Herald-Whig

Brock values connection he made with Iowa State coaches

Quincy High School's Jirehl Brock dons an Iowa State University hat as his mom, Resha, celebrates after he verbally committed to the Cyclones during a press conference at Quincy High School on Friday, Jul. 6, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 6, 2018 8:35 pm Updated: Jul. 7, 2018 11:17 am

It took a coach with Missouri roots who played at Illinois to lure Jirehl Brock to Iowa.

Credit Nathan Scheelhaase for that.

Why the Iowa State University running backs coach deserves such credit is because of the way he handled the process. He didn't pursue the Quincy High School senior running back with a full-out recruiting assault. He built a relationship, cultivated it and stayed interested without it feeling cumbersome.

It's a tricky slope college recruiters tread, one Scheelhaase maneuvered efficiently in getting Brock to commit to the Cyclones. A consensus top-12 running back nationally, Brock made his commitment official Friday when he announced it during a press conference at the QHS gym.

"They did a great job of being interested but not bugging him," QHS coach Rick Little said. "They would check in and make sure he knew they were invested in what was going on. They also were very, very patient in letting him know that. I think that was something that was really key in this situation."

Scheelhaase, a native of Kansas City, Mo., who played quarterback at the University of Illinois, spent three seasons coaching for the Illini, which is when he made his first contact with Brock. Following his breakout sophomore season in which he rushed for 1,389 yards and 23 touchdowns, Brock began receiving recruiting interest from several schools.

Scheelhaase was one of the first to present him with a scholarship offer.

In January, Scheelhaase left Illinois to join Matt Campbell's staff at Iowa State. Although his recruiting colors changed, his relationship with Brock didn't.

"It definitely carried over," Brock said. "When he got the job, I was one of the first people he contacted. Before he even got it, he was telling me about the opportunity. After he got hired, he made it to one of my basketball games. It showed how he was all in on me from the jump. That carried out through the whole process."

Campbell was part of that, too.

The ISU head coach attended a QHS basketball game with Scheelhaase and developed a similar rapport with Brock. It paid dividends when other schools came calling later in the recruiting process.

"If you come in late, you don't really get to build a relationship with the coaching staff and you don't feel as comfortable with them as you do with others," Brock said. "That's a big part of it. You have to be comfortable around the coaches you're going to be playing for and the players you're going to be playing with."

Comfortability in your environment helps, too.

Ames, Iowa, might not have the big-city appeal as Chicago or Minneapolis -- Northwestern and Minnesota were Brock's other two official visits -- but Brock liked what the city has to offer.

"Some people would say it would be boring and just cornfields," Brock said. "It's not. When you're in college, especially when you play a sport, you're not really going to do a lot other than your sport and school. But if you want to do something, you definitely have the opportunity."

What he plans to do is get a degree in business management with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and use his vibrant personality and award-winning smile to his advantage. Iowa State afforded him that opportunity, while others did not.

That includes Northwestern.

"Everyone knows how high class they are when it comes to academics, but they didn't have an undergrad business program," Brock said. "I wouldn't have been able to do the major I want to do my first two years there. That stood out to me as one factor of why I didn't choose them.

"No matter where you go, you're going to get a good education. It's just a matter of where you fit at."

Brock fits at Iowa State. He fits with Campbell and Scheelhaase. He fits being a short drive from home. He fits because he made sure the fit was right for him and no one else.

"There's not a bad fit for him because of his talents and abilities," Little said. "Matt Campbell and his staff and the culture they've created is outstanding. He's very genuine. He's very invested. That's something that appealed to Jirehl."