AMES — Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell likes to recruit football players that can dunk a basketball.
Not because it necessarily transfers over to the football field, but because he could never do it as an athlete.
Last week, 5-foot-11 Iowa State running back signee Jirehl Brock made waves on social media with three putback dunks in one game for Quincy High School (Ill.).
“He’s really athletic,” Campbell said of the 4-star recruit. “You watch Jirehl play and he’s passionate about football. You see him make great plays on defense playing safety and running downhill and filling an alley. You see him running the football — it’s impressive.
“On top of all of that, he has elite leadership ability. He’s a guy, when you walk into the room, you’re instantly drawn to him. He’s a guy that when his football team needed him the most, he put them on his back and had great success. He’s a special young man on top of being a really good football player.”
Brock ran for a school-record 2,158 yards and 33 touchdowns this season.
But Campbell and company didn’t stop at Brock. They added fellow 4-star running back Breece Hall, who also rushed for over 2,000 yards at Wichita (Kan.) Northwest.
It’s rare that two premier running backs from the same class go to the same school, much less a school like Iowa State, which isn’t a historical powerhouse. Brock is the ninth-ranked running back in the 2019 class and Hall is the No. 10 running back.
SEC power LSU is the only other school in the nation to get two top-10 running backs in this class.
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“I don’t know that we ever thought that that was going to happen,” Iowa State recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Alex Golesh said. “(Running backs coach) Nate (Scheelhaase) did an incredible job with building a relationship with each one individually, then connecting those two and having them build a relationship with each other. He was probably the only one that saw the vision of those two coexisting.”
Campbell’s had success using two running backs before when he was at Toledo, but this was different because he’s getting them in the same class.
“The unselfishness and character of those two guys is incredible,” Golesh said. “You don’t see that. For both those guys to believe in what Matt’s doing and to believe in what Nate’s doing and be able to coexist — I never thought it was going to happen.”
But Campbell needed it to happen with junior running back David Montgomery’s NFL decision still up in the air. Because of that, Iowa State also added scat-back Leonard Glass. In the California state championship game, Glass ran for over 100 yards, had over 100 receiving yards and had an interception at the goal line while playing safety. Campbell believes Glass could play on either side of the ball, but his future is likely at the running back/scat-back position.
“For us, it’s continuing to go out and get the best players you can get,” Campbell said. “We’re really excited about all three of those kids because I think all three are really highly-talented football players that can do a lot of things. We obviously lose (senior) Mike (Warren) and David at some point is going to have to make a decision on his future. We’re just continuing to collect the best player we possibly can.”
Campbell said it was easy to convince all three running backs to come to Iowa State, regardless of what Montgomery decides to do.
“If David comes back for his senior year, you’re going to get to be an understudy of one of the best tailbacks in the country,” Campbell said. “If he doesn’t come back, then you have an opportunity to come in here and have an opportunity to compete with some really good football players that we already have in here.”
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