GILBERT, Ariz. — As Iowa State University fans lived out the fantasy of a field storming after freshman quarterback Brock Purdy helped ISU defeat a top 10 opponent, seeing a sea of cardinal and gold swarm their eighteen year old son, Shawn and Carrie Purdy could only think back to where the dream first began in Arizona. “We are just so happy for him that the work he’s put in is unfolding,” said Shawn, who was also a 16th round pick in the 1991 MLB draft by the Angels.
The passion to compete and win came at an early age but his mother Carrie said his now stoic demeanor took a little more time to mature. “From five years to eight if they lost or a six year old friend dropped a pass, Brock would be in tears. After three years we were like you can’t cry anymore.”
As number fifteen now scampers into the end zone against some the Big Twelve’s best, it’s hard to imagine his parents ever being worried about making the switch from flag to tackle football. Carrie said, “We battled him. He wanted to start in the third or fourth grade and we said absolutely not. We didn’t want him hurt and we wanted him to learn the game.”
With tackle football in his sights the path finally seemed secure and his position undeniable during a preseason talk with his first coach. “We were going to leave the coach’s house and he goes, hey Brock if you are not the quarterback what position do you want to be and Brock says the quarterback and he was in the sixth grade.”
Despite that passion to become a signal caller, patience is a virtue and he was named the teams offensive lineman. Shawn said, “He never complained and just went out and tried to be the best lineman he could be.”
After that season, the only complaining came from opposing teams as eye-popping stats rolled out from the flick of Brock Purdy’s wrist. “He was a leader and he’s always been a leader. You weren’t going to push him around,” said Carrie.
Joining Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona, Brock seemed destined for stardom at one of the largest schools in the state. Then a severe diagnosis of mononucleosis sidelined him for the first three games of his junior year. “He was burning up, He was jaundice, he was yellow. She said your spleen is so swollen if that pops or leaks you are done Brock that’s how serious,” Carrie said. The illness caused Brock to lose twenty pounds. He still managed to lead Perry and head coach Preston Jones to the 6A semifinals for the first time in school history. “His leadership qualities are second to none. It’s all the things you don’t see,” said Jones. His senior year was only better. “He fights for every game and it doesn’t matter what division it is. He’s on the field and he’s gonna win that game,” said Carrie.
Setting state records in the biggest class with 57 touchdowns and over 4,400 passing yards, both of which dwarf Iowa High School records, but his 6’1” stature was not enticing for major colleges. Coach Jones said, “I told all of them you are wasting your time not picking this guy. There’s a good chance you are going to be kicking a can without a job if you don’t recruit him.” Brock remained patient. His mother said, “It was never hard for him, it was hard for us. I’m not a patient person.”
As more state honors continued to roll in, like the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year and still no big offer most teenagers would grow frustrated. His father said, that was not the case. “He was teaching us in all our years of teaching him, he was teaching us patience and faith and those things.”
Offers soon from began to come in around the new year from the likes of Kansas, Iowa State, Alabama and Texas A&M. His father offered simple advice. “Go to a school where that school is the heartbeat of the town.” Brock saw that in Iowa State University. “It is such the right fit,” said Shawn who added, “We love everything about what’s up there and just good people.” People who have rallied around their son like family. An outpouring of support for Brock that causes his parents to become emotional. “The fans started cheering his name. I was bawling and a friend came up to ask if I was alright and I said I don’t know what to do.””
The bright lights don’t seem to faze Brock, and it isn’t causing dissension in the quarterback room either. Carrie said, “Kyle Kempt has been phenomenal in the QB room. Just an awesome relationship. Zeb, he’s like Zeb Nolan might be one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met, he just cracks me up all the time so they all get along awesome.”
As the nation became shocked that a freshman could light up the scoreboard against ranked opponents, “Puma Nation” at Perry High School proudly said we told you so. “Once he got his shot we weren’t surprised but it sure is a special thing,” said coach Jones.
Hours after one of the university’s biggest victories and on-field storming, Brock wasn’t celebrating but working to get better. “After the West Virginia game at the house he had a tablet on his lap and he was looking at film,” said his father.
It’s a mentality his younger brother Chubba, a high school junior quarterback also at Perry hopes to emulate. “Chubba is Brock’s biggest fan,” Shawn said.
Chubba may challenge Brock’s passing records but he’s already his biggest competition on the ping pong table. “Oh my gosh we have tears. They go at it and Chubba beats everybody.” Even the coaches recruiting his Brock received defeat. “Every coach came and Chubba beat everyone. Six college coaches were here and Chubba beat every one of them,” said Carrie.
Inside Brock’s bedroom is littered with prestigious awards like the Ed Dougherty award given to Arizona’s best football player. There are also balls from his first collegiate passing and rushing touchdowns against Oklahoma State but what’s most telling is a book by the person he strives to be off and on the field, Tim Tebow. “He read his book and saw how he motivates in the weight room and leads by example and Brock says that’s how I’m going to do it,” said Shawn.
Poised to lead, Brock Purdy shines on the brightest stage but refuses to stand in it alone. Shawn said, “He knows it’s not him, he knows he’s the vehicle and he just wants to be a good example in every way he can.”
A Cyclone rooted in faith and humility that hopes to lead ISU to the promise land. “Win a conference championship but definitely a national championship. That is on that boy’s mind,” said his father.