Opinion | It’s decision time for Iowa’s Brody Brecht

The two-sport athlete Brody Brecht will have to choose between football or baseball sooner rather than later.


Grace Smith

Iowa pitcher Brody Brecht throws a pitch during the second baseball game of a doubleheader between Iowa and Illinois at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City on Saturday, April 9, 2022. Brecht struck out two Illini in one inning. The Fighting Illini defeated the Hawkeyes in 13 innings, 7-5.

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

Decision time is coming for Brody Brecht. And it already seems like he’s chosen baseball.

Brecht, who was recruited by both head football coach Kirk Ferentz and head baseball coach Rick Heller, came to Iowa in 2021 with the intention of playing both sports for the Hawkeyes.

“It was a lot, deciding, you know, should I do both?” Brecht said at Iowa baseball’s media day on Feb. 10. “Should I just play one, focus on one? But ultimately, I decided the best thing for me to do was to do both.”

In his final football season at Ankeny High School in 2020, Brecht had 42 receptions for 599 yards and 12 touchdowns. Brecht’s offensive abilities on the football field convinced Ferentz to extend him an offer — even though Ferentz knew he’d be sharing Brecht with the baseball team and Heller.

“God has blessed me with the ability to, you know, play both at the Big Ten level,” Brecht said. “So, it was really cool to have the opportunity. They both communicated well, and I’m glad that they’ve been able to work well together to make this work.”

But he had to make another decision before he even came to the University of Iowa: whether he wanted to attend college or go into the 2021 MLB Draft.

Brecht was the No. 77 prospect in the MLB Draft, but he ultimately couldn’t give up his dream of playing for the Hawkeyes. Brecht told The Des Moines Register in July 2021 that he set a seven-figure price tag to be drafted, and teams decided to pass on him throughout the 20-round draft.

So, he made the two-hour trek from Ankeny to Iowa City before his freshman football season in fall 2021.

But at every turn, Brecht has chosen baseball over football. First, Brecht decided to play a final season with the Ankeny Hawks baseball team in summer 2021 over attending Iowa football summer workouts.

One week into fall workouts with the football team, Brecht sustained a thumb injury, keeping him out for the 2021-22 football season.

Now, Brecht has recovered from the injury on his pitching hand, but his commitment to the baseball team put him behind in football spring training. Brecht has been very limited in Hawkeye football’s spring practice, wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland said.

“When he can and when he’s available, basically non-game days for baseball, he’s practicing with us,” Copeland said. “He still is in attendance at practice, but most of those baseball game days he’s not dressed, for obvious reasons, because he has to play a game potentially later on that afternoon.”

Copeland stressed that baseball is the priority for Brecht because the sport is currently in season.

RELATED: Iowa baseball downs Western Illinois in seven innings at Duane Banks Field

“Football offseason lifting is obviously very important,” Brecht said. “But this is the main baseball season. We’re gonna be traveling a lot. So, it’s pretty busy.”

Brecht is again prioritizing baseball over football for the upcoming summer. He is heading to Clinton, Iowa, to pitch for the Clinton Lumberkings in the Prospect League. The Lumberkings’ schedule runs from June 1 to Aug. 6, which will force Brecht to miss Hawkeye football’s summer workouts.

Brecht has a lot of potential, both as a wide receiver and a pitcher. But his ceiling as a pitcher is higher. He has a 100-mile-per-hour fastball — a rare sight in collegiate, and even professional, baseball.

In 13 appearances for the Hawkeyes this season, he has a 2.37 ERA — second-lowest on the team. He has 36 strikeouts over 68 batters faced for a 52.9 percent strikeout rate, as of April 29.

Brecht knows he’ll have to choose sooner rather than later, and it should be baseball.

“I’ve been trying to go all in on both and I’m gonna try to do that for as long as I can,” Brecht said. “Obviously, at some point, I’m probably gonna have to prioritize one over the other.”