PHOENIX – Former Casteel High School offensive lineman Brock Dieu was on the sidelines for the Washington State game against Arizona State in a limited capacity at Sun Devil Stadium in 2021, patiently waiting for his opportunity to start.
Two seasons and six starts later as an offensive lineman for Washington State, Dieu’s dream is turning into a reality Saturday when the Cougars (4-3) take on the Sun Devils (1-6) at the newly named Mountain America Stadium in their final Pac-12 matchup.
“I can remember my Pop Warner days when my family had season tickets to ASU and going to those games on a Saturday night,” Dieu said. “It was the coolest thing ever and I always dreamed of playing in that stadium. To be coming in as a starter and playing and it’s a night game in October with hopefully some good weather, it’s a dream come true, honestly.”
Dieu’s father, Jeff Dieu, saw the potential in his son going all the way back to his elementary school days. While Dieu played flag football – in part because of his size – Jeff witnessed the beginning of a world of potential on the gridiron.
“So we just said, ‘We’re going to play flag football and he could play baseball and he can play basketball, whatever he wants to do is good. If he decides he doesn’t like it, then that’s fine too,’” Jeff said. “He just at a young age was well-coordinated and he was kind of the biggest kid, which was also entertaining because most people thought he was older than he really was.”
Once Dieu’s elementary school days ended, the Dieu family found another avenue of football for him. They signed him up for the San Tan Football League, which is designed for kids within the Queen Creek area to play tackle football. Jeff saw that unlike most kids, his son embraced the contact. After junior high, he joined the Casteel Colts High School football team and immediately showed his coachability.
“He just has the ability to be very coachable and picks up things very well,” Jeff said. “He has a really good ability to, if he makes a mistake or if he sees something that gets him the first time, he has the ability to make up for it the next time, kind of a one-time deal. You get your one shot and then after that, he has the ability to really kind of make up for it.”
One person who knows the ins and outs of Dieu’s game is his former offensive line coach, Mike Till. He saw Dieu for the first time during a mini-camp before Casteel High School officially opened in 2015. Two years later, when Dieu became a freshman, Till saw everything from that camp translate to the Colts program effortlessly.
“I knew right away when I saw Brock as a seventh grader that he was going to be something special, just with his footwork and his work ethic,” Till said. “Someone that was very, very coachable, someone that was not afraid to take some constructive criticism.
“It was just like, ‘OK, here we go.’ So, day one as a freshman, watching him work, it took us five minutes to realize that he was going to be our starter for us on varsity as a freshman.”
As the years rolled on, Dieu’s attitude and commitment never wavered. He continued to be extremely coachable, even with the amount of talent he possesses. Till described how other players would have their routines and regimens, yet Dieu never opposed any type of change he or his coaching staff would suggest.
After high school, colleges flocked in for Dieu’s services at the next level, as nine universities recruited the star lineman for his football prowess, including three Pac-12 schools (Arizona State, Washington State and Oregon). However, he didn’t want to go to a school just to be a football player. Dieu wanted a program with a mechanical engineering major. He made that very clear to Jeff, who helped his son navigate the process and find Dieu’s perfect college fit.
“As the (recruiting) process rolled around, we realized that football is not an end-all for everything,” Jeff said. “The biggest thing was his education. ‘What do you want to do with the rest of your life?’ He’s a mechanical engineering major and that was the biggest thing. ‘Does the school have mechanical engineering? Does it have any engineering program?’ And it turns out Oregon does not, which is kind of a crazy thing.
“So they kind of fell off the radar right away where it’s like you still have to get an education. Our biggest deal was, ‘Do they have the education one that you want and do they want you?’ That was kind of our focus and from there, we let him do all his research and get to know the coaches, whether that be the Ivy League schools or the military academies or the Mountain West schools or the Pac-12. It was getting to know the school and then getting to know the coaches and how (does he fit) into the program?”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dieu received an offer from ASU – which would’ve been a 40-minute drive from his alma mater. However, just 11 days later, he committed to Washington State.
“It would be nice to be close to home, but I was also looking to hold a bunch of different facets,” Dieu said about his college choice. “I wanted to get a major in mechanical engineering. I wanted to be able to be in more of a small town, college football environment. I knew Pullman had that same thing and so it was a little difficult, but I’m really happy with my decision to come to WSU.”
Dieu’s first season with the Cougars involved a lot of time on the sidelines, with his only game coming in the 2021 Sun Bowl against Central Michigan as a true freshman. Injuries to the line, along with players declining to play, presented the first of many opportunities to play in the crimson and white. After not playing most of that season, he reflected on what was going through his head.
“I’m doing what’s asked of me … I try to keep everything the same way so I’ll prepare, if I’m a third string or first string, it doesn’t matter, I’m going to try to do the best I can and whatever role I’m at,” Dieu said. “So going into the Sun Bowl, I was kind of a toss-up. I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not, but I just kept my nose down and kept working hard and then it ended up that I played and I’m glad I prepared the way I did to be ready for it.”
As the 16th-ranked player in the Valley in high school, Dieu knew the time was approaching to show the world his football acumen. The player ranked ahead of him on that list was Isaia Glass, who was a Casteel rival at Queen Creek High School and now a conference foe as a junior offensive tackle for Arizona State.
When asked about that ranking and Glass, Dieu gave props to the increasing competition and talent in the eastern portion of Arizona.
“It’s awesome,” Dieu said. “To be playing in the Pac-12 and seeing guys that I played against in high school is actually one of the coolest things. I have to say, we both achieved our dreams and it’s crazy, we’re from the same area and all of a sudden you’re playing on this huge stage. I’m excited for those guys in that area.
“Football has definitely been booming the last couple of years, and I’m just excited to see more guys come out, come out of that area.”
As a redshirt sophomore, Dieu has two more years of eligibility. At this rate, he’s trending toward landing a spot on an NFL roster. But he understands that although football is great, focusing on the present moment is most important, starting with playing well in Saturday’s matchup.
“I would love to be able to make a career out of this, but then I have a degree to fall back on because football ends for everybody at some point,” Dieu said. “Right now, all I can control is the now and I’m trying to be the best player, the best teammate, the best person in every facet, so all I can really do is live in the now.”
Till acknowledges what Dieu can do once he graduates from Washington State. They even share a message frequently – one that has been with Dieu since playing for Casteel. As Till describes it, it’s their sign-off to each other.
“Stay hungry, stay humble,” Till said.