Brock, Downing ready to step into bigger roles on offense


Collin Maguire/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State left guard Trevor Downing lines up against No. 8 Oklahoma State on Oct. 23, 2021.

James Powell

A total of 68 combined starts. That’s the combined total between long-time center Colin Newell and superstar tailback Breece Hall, two of the most notable names the Cyclones will aim to replace this coming season.

But they’ve got some players who feel they’re ready for the challenge.

The Cyclones will call on Trevor Downing, who has 26 starts on the offensive line, to make the move from guard to center in hopes of some sense of continuity. They’ll also look to their redshirt junior running back, Jirehl Brock, to help fill the void left by Hall.

Making the transition from guard to center isn’t always easy, but Downing applauds his old center for providing a steady presence over the years.

“Moving from guard to center is a big adjustment,” Downing said Tuesday. “It’s just trying to find consistency in my play… it was good that [Colin] Newell was here for four years playing consistent football, so watching old film of him and guys in the league has really been helpful.”

With the mass departure that took place after cornerstones like Brock Purdy and Charlie Kolar left, in addition to Hall and Newell, finding new sources for leadership can prove to be a challenge as this new age of Cyclones tries to fill the void.

In the case of Downing, he knows what those veterans meant to him when he was young and coming into the program and feels it’s his duty to pass the baton on to the players who are in the shoes he walked in all those years ago.

“I think back to my freshman year, we had great leaders… I think about those guys and how they handled their leadership roles and really got to know people,” Downing said. “I’m just trying to do the same thing.”

The Creston, Iowa, native mentioned specifically playing pool with the younger players in the new Stark Performance Center and said he takes pride in being there off the field for his younger teammates just as much on.

He also likes to see their competitive side come out.

“It gets pretty competitive down there,” Downing said. “We’ve broken a couple pool sticks already this spring.”

His offensive counterpart, Jirehl Brock, may have even bigger shoes to fill, but it’s not like Brock hasn’t already gotten some experience under his belt as well.

The Quincy, Illinois, native has already rushed for over 200 yards, has two total touchdowns, and played admirably in place of Hall in the Cheez-It Bowl earlier this calendar year.

Brock was a four-star recruit coming out of high school, so it may have been easy for him to get impatient as he watched Hall get the lion’s share of the carries. Instead, he knew his time was coming and provided leadership and support where it was necessary.

“I feel like the maturity that I have has allowed me to be able to stick it out and be a leader even though I wasn’t starting,” Brock said. “I would still help Breece, still help [Kene Nwangwu], still help those guys with anything that they needed knowing my time would come and hopefully I can show a different type of leadership towards the young guys moving into a bigger role.”

Brock came to Iowa State in 2019 and watched Nwangwu fulfill every player’s dream of being drafted into the NFL. He then took on a small role in the running and short passing game while Hall wrote his name in Cyclone lore and likely will get his name called early in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Now, Brock steps into an offense with lots of unfamiliar names leading the way, including the person handing the ball off to him, Hunter Dekkers. Brock has had two seasons with Dekkers on his team and believes there’s certainly some untapped potential.

“With Hunter and I both being backups last year, we had a lot of time on the field together,” Brock said Tuesday. “His accuracy, his patience, his leadership skills all compliment him being what could be a superstar quarterback and a really good quarterback for this program.”