It almost seems impossible that we’re finally arriving at the time when this article would need to be written. Much the same way we thought we would never see the day Georges Niang would finally graduate and take off his Iowa State jersey for the final time, Brock Purdy’s final game at Jack Trice Stadium almost doesn’t feel real. It always felt like a far-off inevitability, more like the day the Sun eventually runs out of hydrogen in a few billion years than any sort of impending event that needed to be prepared for and processed.
Yet, here we are, just days away from the last time Brock Purdy touches the “Honor Before Victory” sign and emerges from the tunnel to a thunderous crowd of Cyclones on a crisp autumn afternoon.
But that definite, irreversible conclusion came at the end of a long and winding path that took Brock Purdy, and the fanbase he carried on his back, to the highest highs any of us have ever seen. But, of course, that wasn’t without a few bumps and bruises along the way, as any good journey worth talking about should have.
In his time at Iowa State, Purdy has transformed himself from a plucky, under-recruited teenager from Arizona into the living, breathing manifestation of a tall tale that gets passed down to cardinal and gold-clad children and grandchildren. Is that a little bit of embellishing on my part? Maybe, but I’m certainly not overstating the impact Brock has had on the program and the place he deserves to hold in the history of Iowa State football.
The amazing part is how immediately that impact was felt. Aside from one carry on a QB power against Akron earlier in the 2018 season, Brock’s first real action came in a relief role on the road against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. He was nothing short of spectacular that day.
.@CycloneFB QB Brock Purdy threw 4⃣ TDs to help Iowa State upset #25 Oklahoma State 48-42 pic.twitter.com/SkF3nIkJcg— Stadium (@Stadium) October 6, 2018
Not to mention, those four touchdown passes don’t even include what is still possibly the most iconic play of his career to date, the Pump Fake to End All Pump Fakes.
Brock Purdy is gonna be a stud for Iowa State. Watch this pump fake. pic.twitter.com/bLdOSoOUyT— Max Olson (@max_olson) October 10, 2018
Brock ended up making a career out of plays like this. If David Montgomery is Iowa State’s undisputed king of making something out of nothing, then Brock Purdy is his viceroy. Time after time, we watched him find open receivers downfield or pick up key first downs after scrambling out of the pocket. His ability to improvise was truly something to see.
Over the course of his three and a half seasons at the helm, all while never missing a start due to injury or poor play. That statement of durability is even more impressive when you consider that Iowa State had not had a quarterback start every game in a season from 2011 through 2018. Obviously, Purdy broke that streak in 2019, and has started every single Iowa State football game since then.
Purdy is currently the holder of well over two dozen school records, and after attempting sixteen passes against TCU, he will be the school’s all-time leader in pass attempts, giving him control of the record for every single-season and career passing-related counting stat, with the exception of interceptions, for which he holds neither record. He also holds the single-season record for completion percentage, and is currently on pace to set the career record as well.
Simply put, he’s statistically the greatest quarterback to ever play at Iowa State, and it isn’t particularly close. Sure, maybe Seneca had more “wow” plays on film, but nobody touches Brock Purdy when it comes to durability, productivity, and winning.
All of this is certainly not to say that Brock Purdy was a perfect player or didn’t have his faults. For most of his career, he had a bad habit of making throws off his back foot and making the occasional boneheaded play (that backwards fumble/INT against TCU in 2020 will be forever stained in my brain).
But for nearly every unlucky bounce or momentary lapse in judgement, Purdy also resurrected his squad from the dead and came back to give his team a chance to win. Matt Campbell has sung praises for Brock’s competitiveness and demeanor time and time again, and it’s easy to see why when number 15 is negotiating furious comebacks to win games (or at least get very close).
For those mistakes, he was also maybe the most heavily scrutinized and criticized Cyclone quarterback of all time. Fans became so accustomed to his brilliance that each mortal mistake he made felt almost illogical and maddening. As the frustration of this season fades and we’re able to reflect on Brock Purdy and his career with the time and perspective he warrants, I’m confident Cyclone fans will remember him as the absolute legend he deserves to be remembered as.
And even in this season, which most will consider a substantial disappointment for the entire team, Purdy has put together easily his best season yet, shattering his career-high completion percentage of 66.6% in 2020 with an astounding 73.4% mark in 2021. He’s played like the veteran senior leader he needed to be virtually all season.
It’s hard to know what would have happened if Brock Purdy had decided to be backup for Nick Saban at Alabama rather than coming to Ames to establish himself as a campus legend, but I do know one thing: Cyclone fans owe Brock Purdy an enormous debt of gratitude for being at the forefront of this era of Cyclone football.
There won’t be many dry eyes left in Jack Trice Stadium when these seniors come out of the tunnel for the last time, and I hope Brock gets a chance to say something to the fans. He deserves every bit of recognition he could possibly get.
Thanks for everything, Brock.