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‘Natural ability to lead’: Becht has proven himself as an Iowa State great

Tyler Coe
Rocco Becht on the field post game after losing a tough game against Texas at Jack Trice Stadium on Nov. 18, 2023.

AMES — Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht officially overtook Brock Purdy Saturday, as the redshirt freshman threw his record-breaking 17th touchdown of the season.

Becht had to take over as starter at the beginning of the season and has taken off in his new role. Becht has shown consistent improvement and is a big factor in Iowa State’s turnaround season and bowl-game berth.

Now Becht has the record for the most passing touchdowns by a freshman with two games left to play. That put him in elite company, as Purdy was the other freshman phenom to take the reins for Iowa State.

“It’s special just to be mentioned in that same category as Brock [Purdy],” Becht said.

Becht breaking the freshman passing touchdown record may have come as a surprise to some, but not to his teammates. Everyone on the team, especially the receivers, had full trust in Becht from day one.

They knew that Becht was talented and had the traits needed to lead the team to success.

“He has a natural ability to lead,” Jaylin Noel said. “Just the way he was raised, his family.”

So when it came time for Becht to be called up to the starting role, even with it being unexpected, he was ready.

Becht had to sit in the backup role through the entire 2022 season. He saw the team struggle to put up four wins and knew when his time came, he would do his best to lead the team to success.

Sitting for a year helped him grow as a player and understand what it takes to lead a football team.

“I think it was a positive, because I was able to see the good and the bad,” Becht said. “Just how to develop as a quarterback behind Hunter [Dekkers], to not make the mistakes that he had made or someone else had made.”

Becht was not the expected starter over the offseason, but when controversy hit the team, Becht was ready to fill whatever role he needed.

Becht had worked hard in the offseason, even before he knew he was going to be the starter. He worked on perfecting his craft, so when the 2023 season started up, he would be ready.

“[It] shows you how much he’s worked throughout the offseason, going into maybe even an unexpected role starting this year,” Noel said.

The biggest thing that Becht worked on, and something that came naturally to him, was his resiliency.

During the season, and in the offseason, Becht had times where he was not at his best. He never let that get him down and always came back better than ever.

“I do think that’s the trait that [Becht] has that has certainly, in my opinion, stood out the most is his ability to respond to hard things,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “It’s the quarterback position, it’s never going to go perfect.”

Beau Freyler and Rocco Becht walk off the field Texas defeats Iowa State 26-16 at Jack Trice Stadium on Nov. 18, 2023. (Tyler Coe)

There were days in spring and fall camp where Becht did not look good, according to Iowa State offensive coordinator Nate Scheelhaase. However, he did not let those rough practices get him down and came back with a fire in his eyes for the following days.

“I think it’s hard to do when you’re in the dog days of fall camp or spring ball,” Scheelhaase said. “It was some of those moments where you’re like, ‘man, we’re really gonna have to figure out a way to get him back going.’”

Fall camp is where Becht’s resiliency showed through.

After a tough two days in fall camp, Becht went on to have one of the best days he has ever had at practice. Scheelhaase said it was one of Becht’s best days execution-wise.

That ability to bounce back bled through into moments throughout the 2023 season. Becht has had some rough plays at times, but he always came back and led the team to success down the field.

“He’s had some of those moments in game that he has a rep that he wishes he could’ve had back, but you haven’t really seen him have that happen series after series or have a moment that leads to another bad moment and another bad moment,” Scheelhaase said.

If Becht threw an untimely interception or a pick six, there was a good chance he would help the offense put up points right after. That was true Saturday against Texas.

Becht threw a pick that led to points for Texas, but on the next drive, he led the team to a touchdown. Becht has helped the Cyclones gain back momentum time and time again and has kept them in games all season long.

Great quarterbacks have the ability to bounce back. That short-term memory is something that will help Becht find more success in the future as he develops as a quarterback.

“You look in the NFL, they all have it. The elite ones do. That’s what separates them,” Campbell said. “Not arm talent, not escapability or mobility. It’s man, can you snap right back in the moment and keep playing. That’s what the great ones got the ability to do.”

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