Brock ready for first career start in Cheez-It Bowl

Nov 21, 2020; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Jirehl Brock (21) rushes against the Kansas State Wildcats at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO, Fla. — Jirehl Brock is ready for his opportunity.

The redshirt sophomore from Quincy, Ill. has waited patiently for three years to step out of the shadow of All-American Breece Hall and get his time to shine.

That chance arrives on Wednesday when Iowa State takes on Clemson in the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando with Brock expected to make the first start of his college career after Hall elected to opt-out of the bowl game in order to prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft.

“It means everything,” Brock said on Monday during the Cheez-It Bowl’s Day for Kids at Fun Spot America Theme Park. “Especially because you go to work every day and put in the work and I’ve seen a little bit of success and saw a little bit of payout of the work that I put in, and the fact that I’m able to get the chance to start against a team like Clemson, it means a lot.”

Brock and Hall arrived at Iowa State with much fanfare as part of the program’s 2019 recruiting class. Brock was the higher-rated recruit, finishing the 2019 cycle considered the No. 273 player in the class by the 247Composite, and the one most people expected to make an immediate splash.

But, it was Hall who seized control of the starting tailback job left open by David Montgomery’s NFL departure the previous winter. The rest, as they would say, is history with Hall becoming one of the greatest players in Iowa State history, breaking numerous records and earning nearly every accolade a player can receive.

Meanwhile, Brock continued to work — and wait.

“All the recruiting, the stars and everything like that, to me, it really doesn’t matter,” Brock said. “It doesn’t mean a thing, because when you get to college, everybody was the best player at their high school. Everybody’s just gonna go out there and play football. Everybody’s fighting for a spot. Breece was more ready than I was at the beginning. Obviously, you know with the success that he had, it showed.”

The waiting didn’t mean Brock was left without an opportunity to contribute. He emerged as Iowa State’s primary third-down back in 2020, succeeding as a pass blocker, catching four passes for 32 yards and carrying the ball 13 times for 46 yards as the Cyclones completed their historic Fiesta Bowl-winning campaign.

His role grew slightly in 2021 as he caught four passes for 22 yards and carried the ball 23 times for 132 yards. He scored his first career touchdown on a seven-yard reception against Kansas.

Then, he finally got his breakout moment with a 40-yard touchdown run in the regular-season finale against TCU.

“It was nice,” Brock said of his first rushing score. “I really didn’t expect it to happen that early in the game, but I was really happy that it did. Coach talks about all the time when you get an opportunity, just make sure that you make the best out of it.”

Brock certainly took hold of that opportunity and showed a flash of the skill that made him such a highly-touted prepster.

The moment allowed him to display what Cyclone fans hope is a sign of things to come from him against Clemson on Wednesday — and moving into 2022 when he’ll be the odds-on favorite to be Iowa State’s No. 1 tailback from the day fall camp starts.

All of it arrives after he spent three years sitting behind his roommate and classmate who emerged as perhaps the best running back in all of college football.

“(Hall’s success) probably makes (waiting) a little bit harder,” Brock said. “You just have to keep taking every chance that you get to get better and we always say just the next man up. So opportunity comes and when it comes, you just have to go with it.”

And go with it he will, because on Wednesday, Jirehl Brock’s biggest collegiate opportunity arrives.

After all that waiting, he’s more than ready.

“It’s a good feeling, especially in a game like this against a really good team in Clemson,” Brock said. “I feel like me being behind Breece and just being able to watch what he was able to do, it kind of helped me get ready for this for this point.”

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.