AMES — The Oklahoma State game in 2018 will be talked about in Iowa State circles for decades.
That was Iowa State fans’ — and the college football world’s — introduction to Brock Purdy.
Purdy has only grown from that game and the junior already has inserted himself into the “best Iowa State quarterback ever” conversation.
Purdy’s teammates remember the game, a 48-42 Cyclones win, as fondly as anyone.
“That was a special day and I’ll never forget it,” safety Lawrence White said. “He was making plays all over the field and he was confident. One play that stands out to me was when he scored, he did a little high step to the end zone. That’s my favorite memory of it — seeing him have fun and the confidence acting like he’s been there before. I’m excited to see what he does on Saturday.”
Center Colin Newell remembered Purdy high-stepping like Adrian Peterson into the end zone as well, but Newell liked the gritty plays Purdy was able to make more than anything.
“Obviously I remember the swagger step into the end zone,” Newell said. “Everyone was pretty excited about that. But there were many other plays he made that day. I can’t remember if it was third or fourth down and he ran someone over to get the first down. That’s how he started out when he came here and he continues to get better and better and keep that same mindset in every way.”
Coach Matt Campbell told Purdy heading into that week that he’d get in the game against the Cowboys. Starter Kyle Kempt was injured and backup Zeb Noland was playing relatively well, but Iowa State had lost back-to-back Big 12 games.
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“To be honest, I was not nervous — I was more excited than anything,” Purdy said. “I think the games leading up to that point, I was preparing, just in case anything happened to the starter. And then for that game when coach told me, ‘Hey you’re gonna play in the game,’ I was really excited. I was like, ‘OK, I’m gonna show my teammates and everybody what I’m about,’ and just do my thing and go play football.
“When we started scoring touchdowns, you could just feel the energy, you could feel the excitement. It was a good time, but I just kept it simple and played football — I was excited.”
Purdy and Iowa State never looked back from that point on.
Purdy led the Cyclones to a 7-1 finish to the regular season. Last season, as a sophomore, Purdy set 18 school records.
Purdy now has Iowa State 3-0 in the Big 12 and in the driver’s seat.
On the other hand, Purdy hasn’t won a bowl game, and he’s under performed in some games that led to Iowa State losses — like against Louisiana to open this season.
“Brock’s greatest growth is his experience and understanding the highs and lows that come with playing the quarterback position,” Campbell said. “At this level, there’s so much expectation and demand on him being his best — or what’s perceived as his best — all the time. It takes both a physical and an emotional toll to play quarterback and play quarterback for a great length of time at this level.
“Brock is certainly a young man that’s taken all of his experiences and continued to grow, both as a football player and as a leader within our football program. A lot of growth has occurred over the last two years.”
Purdy has felt his growth this season come from trusting those around him.
“I think in the first game I sort of felt pressured a little bit, just when things weren’t going our way and I felt like I had to do it on my own,” Purdy said. “But I’m at the point where I know everyone on the field that is playing with me has the capability of doing their part and that if I just trust in them, then we’ll be good to go. And then trusting the coaches’ play-calling and trusting the defense and special teams to do their part, just trusting the team.
“I feel like each game I’ve gotten better with it. I think other guys on the team have gotten better with it, as well. It’s not just me that’s going through this kind of stuff. I think as a whole, we’ve all grown and I’m really excited to see what happens down the stretch of the season and everything as we continue to just keep building off of the games in the past and all of our experiences.”