Former ISU star QB Brock Purdy gets “choked up” while leading first youth camp in Ames

Brock Purdy at his youth football camp in Ames. Photo by Rob Gray.

 AMESBrock Purdy held the mic and mouthed the word “man” several times. 

 “Man, I appreciate every single one of you guys.”

 “Man, I’m getting emotional. I’m back here, home.”

 “Man, let’s play some football. You guys ready?”

 And with that, the former Iowa State quarterback-turned-San Francisco 49ers star kicked off his first annual youth camp Saturday at the Cyclones’ practice field. About 650 young football players ages 9-to-15 attended the event — and when Purdy asked if they were ready, a boisterous cry of, ‘Yeah!,’ rang out.

 “Every time I come back to Ames there’s just more development and it looks a little different,” said Purdy, who led ISU to a Big 12 title game appearance and a Fiesta Bowl win during his college career.. “It’s just exciting because of the growth. Obviously, everybody getting behind Iowa State football and the program and the university, so to come back and just see new things, for me, it’s special, because I feel like all the guys even before me, we’ve tried to just continue to build this place. To come back and see the progress is pretty cool.”

 Saturday’s weather conditions were anything but “cool,” as the heat index reached 95 degrees and sweat soaked through every shirt. Most of those shirts — unsurprisingly — featured Purdy’s name and number: Either 13, which he wears now for the 49ers, or 15, which he donned during his storied Cyclone career.

 All of that love, it seems, briefly overwhelmed him.

 “Just the people, man,” said Purdy, who guided San Francisco to the NFC Championship game in 2022 and the Super Bowl last season. “Come back here, it’s such a hometown feel. It’s a college town, but you see everybody again, and everyone’s just thriving, and everyone just loves each other and they help each other out — and they helped me understand who I am as a person in this life. I mean, those are crucial years, from high school to college in terms of understanding what you believe and what you want to do with life. I found that here, so it’s always nice to come back.”

 Purdy established 30-plus new passing-based records during his time at Iowa State, but now redshirt sophomore Rocco Becht’s busy breaking them. That’s fine with Purdy, who is bullish on Becht, the reigning Big 12 offensive freshman of the year.

 “He’s smart and knows where he’s going with the ball,” Purdy said. “I feel like playing quarterback, it’s about making the right decision over and over and over again. Obviously, arm strength, all that kind of stuff is cool, but if you can make the right decision and be smart with the ball and let the defense play defense, you’re gonna win ballgames and Rocco does that.”

 Purdy showcased many of those attributes when pressed into duty in 2022 after being snared by the 49ers with the last pick of the NFL Draft. That made Purdy that season’s so-called “Mr. Irrelevant” — a monicker that quickly became moot once he got a chance to shine in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s high-octane offense.

 Purdy set San Francisco’s single-season passing yards record last season and earned a Pro Bowl berth, but he’s not a finished product and is approaching this offseason like he’s got plenty left to prove.

 “It’s just the playbook, continuing to chip away at that, getting more familiar with it,” said Purdy, the lowest-drafted quarterback to ever start in a Super Bowl. “It’s like another language, like I always say, so you’ve got to always be in it. And then physically, just my mobility and hopefully being able to translate that to being quicker and more elusive and things like that. I can always continue to get better in that regard.”

 But Saturday, Purdy wasn’t striving to sharpen his skills. He wasn’t thinking about the Sept. 9 season opener against former teammate Breece Hall and the New York Jets, either. Instead, he simply smiled while helping others do the same work he did as a youth — and, man, that felt good.

 “They’ve followed me and they still have my back,” he said. “For them to grow up and see me playing on the field — that could be them one day. So, for me, I get choked up when I see it. It’s special.”