Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State 2020 position preview: QB Brock Purdy has NFL Draft hype

Competition for backup quarterback is one to watch

Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) scrambles as he looks to pass against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Jack Trice S
Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) scrambles as he looks to pass against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

AMES — Brock Purdy has rocketed to the top of the all-time best quarterbacks list at Iowa State.

And he hasn’t even started his junior season.

Purdy set 18 game, season and career records at Iowa State last season. Those records include passing yards (3,982), passing touchdowns (27), completions (312), total offense (4,231) and 300-yard passing games (6). He also set school records for passing touchdowns in consecutive games (12) and most touchdowns responsible for in a season (35).

Seneca Wallace, Sage Rosenfels and Todd Bandhauer all have an argument to be at the top of the all-time Iowa State quarterbacks list, but if Purdy plays one more full season like he did his first two, they can all play for second.

Purdy already is appearing on 2021 NFL mock drafts.

He’s on ESPN’s “quarterbacks to watch” list with Clemson’s Trevor Lawerence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields and he’s on The Athletic’s list of quarterbacks who could have a Joe Burrow-type season and rocket to a top NFL Draft pick.

In The Athletic’s article, one anonymous NFL assistant coach had this to say about Purdy: “I’ve been really impressed with Brock Purdy, and really with that entire program. Every time I’ve watched them, the QB play has been good. Good demeanor. Not a cannon for an arm. I do like how he operates within the offense.”

Those reports assume Purdy will enter the NFL Draft after next season. Who really knows, though? We’ve seen quarterbacks like USC’s Matt Barkley and Oregon’s Justin Herbert return for their senior seasons while being projected first-round picks as juniors.

Whether or not Purdy goes pro next year is up to him. But within two years, his Iowa State career will be over and Coach Matt Campbell will be tasked with replacing the guy who will likely go down as the best quarterback in school history.

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Quarterback Re-al Mitchell, who was in the same recruiting class as Purdy, is in the transfer portal and the only other scholarship quarterback on the roster is true freshman Aiden Bouman, who early enrolled in January.

Four-star recruit Hunter Dekkers will join the quarterback room when he arrives on campus — whenever that will be given the current state of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dekkers and Bouman are the likely successors to Purdy and one of them will probably be called upon to be his backup the moment he steps on campus.

“I don’t know if you could be more blessed to have two guys like this come into your football program in terms of the quality of people, their character, winning, leadership,” Campbell said. “Those guys were no doubt about it for us. Our number of quarterbacks is still small with Easton Dean moving from quarterback to tight end, which could be a huge benefit for this football program.

“Both guys have elite intangibles and both guys have a great friendship. It says a lot about our program that both young men trust us enough to both come here and not only want to compete but want to make our program better. I’m really excited about that and I think both guys are pillars of this class.”

One dark-horse backup candidate if Purdy goes down with an injury next season, which let’s face it, is a real possibility, is Devin Larsen, who, like Purdy. is from Gilbert, Ariz.

Purdy dealt with two separate ankle injuries during parts of last season.

“The West Virginia game I tweaked my left ankle and I’ve been playing with that all year and then Kansas State in the last game I tweaked my right one and today it was the left one again,” Purdy said after the Camping World Bowl. “All year it’s been one ankle sprain after another. But that’s part of the game. There are no excuses.”

Larsen was being recruited by Maryland before shoulder surgery ended his senior campaign. Even with the injury, he still held an offer from Idaho, but elected to walk-on at Iowa State.

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Larsen has the size at 6-foot-4 and the high school accolades to be a Kyle Kempt-type dark horse in the quarterback room. He threw for more than 7,000 yards and 75 touchdowns in his high school career.

“We’ll be in a really good spot by the time we get to the season,” Campbell said of the quarterback depth. “We had a guy named Devin Larsen walk on to our football program who was a highly-recruited player out of Arizona but an injury cost him some scholarship offers, so he decided to walk on to our program. He rehabbed his shoulder the first part of last season here and got himself into a really good spot. We feel confident about him.”

None of Iowa State’s quarterbacks outside of Purdy have ever touched a college field to even warm up, so it’s impossible to be entirely confident about their abilities but Campbell sees the talent they possess.

“We think there’s going to be a really good race through fall camp (for the backup quarterback spot),” Campbell said. “We think there’s a lot of talent there but until we go through fall camp, it’s hard to comment on where we are exactly. It’s probably as talented of a QB room as we’ve had since we’ve been here. But talent, until developed, is just talent.”

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