‘It’s about the relationships’: Deon Broomfield returns to Ames to build connections in the secondary

Deon Broomfield Gridiron 2021 Graphic Final.jpg

James Powell

In October 2008, a three-star safety from Palm Bay, Florida, committed to Iowa State. It was his only scholarship offer. His name is Deon Broomfield.

The Cyclones went 2-10 in his first season and the perception of the program was bleak at best. The Paul Rhoads coaching era began the same time as Broomfield’s, and the coach’s signature win may not have been possible without Broomfield himself. 

Cyclone lore doesn’t consist of many more exciting and earth-shattering wins than November 18th, 2011, against Oklahoma State. With just over two minutes remaining, Broomfield made a tackle on Oklahoma State wideout Josh Cooper that forced the Cowboys to kick, and eventually miss, a field goal that would’ve put them ahead. Without the open-field tackling ability of Broomfield, Cooper would’ve gotten a first down and likely put the game completely in the hands of the Cowboys.

It may not have been an incredibly monumental play, but it represents something bigger that has happened again and again in the coming years. Broomfield started 18 games, and all 12 his senior season. He paid his dues, did his time on special teams, and all that work paid off with a single play that impacted the biggest game of his life.

Broomfield’s time at Iowa State wasn’t defined by any play or game, however. In his words, the years he spent in Ames created a multitude of relationships and bonds that still forge strong even to this day, and that’s what he remembers most fondly when recalling his days as a player.

“You build those relationships that last a lifetime. I’ve been to weddings, and you consider (teammate’s) kids your godsons… what I did on the field pales in comparison to that,” Broomfield said.

The Ames community and fan support was one of the more lasting and impactful reasons why he had such good memories, and one of the big reasons why he came back to his Cyclone roots 10 years later as a coach.

It was a mutual interest between Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell and Broomfield. D.K. McDonald, who coached safeties at Iowa State for five seasons, accepted a job as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles. That allowed Campbell to bring in Broomfield, who has already been around the coaching block a few times at a young age.

Broomfield brings with him a bevy of experience at just 29 years old. After being a member of the Buffalo Bills practice squad in 2014, he has coached the secondary at Carthage College (2015), Western Illinois (2016) and Indiana State (2017-2019). Perhaps most notable of all, he spent 2020 with the Houston Texans as a defensive assistant. NFL coaching experience is valuable at any level and any age, but Broomfield seemed to always want to come back to the college ranks as he worked his way up the coaching trees.

“I got into coaching for the relationships, and the relationships in the NFL aren’t like they are in college,” Broomfield said. 

Relationships are something that seem to be at the pinnacle of what Iowa State has tried to accomplish on the football field, as well as the environment they have created off of it. ‘Five Star Culture’ can’t start without it.

It’s clear that Broomfield uses his passion for building relationships and making connections in recruiting, as well as coaching. He refers to relationship-building in recruiting as a “lost cause”, and believes it is of the utmost importance when talking to players interested in Ames.

“When you’re recruiting kids… you play a very vital role in their life going from the recruitment process to them getting here as freshman, all the way until they graduate. You play a huge part in their life and that’s something that I like (about recruiting).”

While it may feel to Broomfield like a lost cause, building those connections and getting players to want to play under him and, in turn, Campbell has worked out well for the coaching staff so far. They were able to recruit safety Jaquan Amos, a highly touted transfer from Villanova, as well as 2022 three star recruits Jeremiah Cooper and Noble Thomas since Broomfield has taken over as a coach in the secondary. 

Broomfield also has learned that developing a healthy dynamic with his current players is important as well, and that’s clear in how Broomfield speaks about his players, as well as how his player’s speak about him. Greg Eisworth, the longtime stalwart on the field and supporter of the Cyclone way since Matt Campbell took the reins, spoke about how Broomfield brings his multitude of experiences on and off the gridiron to help nurture the next group of Cyclone safeties.

“He (Broomfield) is open with his coaching and playing experiences here… it makes it easy for us to just have a conversation with him,” Eisworth said.

From Broomfield’s perspective, being a rookie safeties coach with Eisworth as your main playmaker is like getting a job at a used car dealership that has a brand new ferrari in the lot. The senior safety’s playmaking ability on the field and leadership off the field is well-documented, and it’s clear that Broomfield respects what Eisworth brings to the safety group.

“The impact that he’s had on me and on the safety room, it’s irreplaceable,” Broomfield said of Eisworth.

Eisworth is one of a few Cyclones that have stuck around through the doldrums of the unsuccessful seasons, and is now reaping the benefits of investing and believing in the process that the coaching staff at Iowa State has brought to Ames. The Grand Prairie, Texas, native has earned First Team All-Big 12 honors in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and won Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2018. He’s the only player in school history to earn first team honors by the Big 12 three times. 

Building relationships at the college level leads to bringing in higher recruits, and the Cyclone football team has certainly climbed up the recruiting ranks in the past few years.

Broomfield spoke a bit about how coaching in Ames compared to his playing days, and mentions that there are some notable differences.

“They (the players) can have their own practices… it’s a different dynamic that to be honest, didn’t exist when I played here.”

Broomfield also pointed out that the players he’s coaching now such as Eisworth, Isheem Young, and transfer from Villanova Jaquan Amos are in a much better position to succeed with the environment and recruiting prowess that Campbell has curated in Ames.

Broomfield’s story, frankly, can be compared well to some of the current stars of the Cyclone Football team. Not a blue-chip talent, but ready and waiting when his name was called to contribute to the team. Brock Purdy, Charlie Kolar, even Eisworth were all three-star recruits, like Broomfiield. All of them now play key roles in this Cyclone team, the only difference is that Broomfield does it from the sideline.