For a couple of years, B.J. Beecher had reason to believe that college recruiters would make him one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in the country by the time he was a senior in high school.Beecher put up staggering passing numbers at Concord High for four years. He attended numerous college summer camps and received positive feedback from some of the most successful coaches in the nation.But when the time came for senior athletes to sign national letters-of-intent to attend colleges, no Division I scholarship offers ever came Beecher’s way. Instead, when Beecher finally agreed to attend East Carolina as a “preferred walk-on” on May 27 – very late for this year’s recruiting class – it left Beecher and his family asking, “What happened?”Though Beecher is excited about the opportunity to compete for playing time and earn a scholarship over the next couple years, the Beecher family and his high school football coach have some theories about why he didn’t have more college options.Beecher became the Spiders starting quarterback midway through his freshman year. Through four seasons, Beecher passed for 10,778 yards and 122 touchdowns.Many of his major passing statistics are ranked in the top five in state history. He directed Concord to the 3A state championship game last fall. The recruiting process started for Beecher, who now stands 6 feet 7 and weighs 215 pounds, after his sophomore season and picked up heavily early in his junior football season.Beecher took unofficial visits to some of the most notable college football programs in the country including Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas. Last summer, he attended camps at N.C. State, Florida and Florida State.Pam Beecher, B.J.’s mother, said Alabama coach Nick Saban told them how “impressed” he was with B.J. and that he had “a lot of coordination for a tall, skinny kid.” She said he led them to believe that Alabama would eventually offer B.J. a football scholarship.“We were pretty sure he was going to get an offer from Alabama,” said Pam Beecher. “We weren’t sure B.J. would go there, but if he got an offer, we thought the rest of the country would follow.”By the spring of 2012, she and her husband Scott felt Alabama’s attention had waned. The Crimson Tide’s quarterback coach had changed and the new coach didn’t seem to be as interested.Around the same time, other high school quarterbacks were making verbal commitments to college programs. In other words, open spots for quarterbacks in the 2013 recruiting class were starting to fill up quickly and Beecher wasn’t getting any offers. There was a buzz from Concord Spider fans who wondered where Beecher would land.The Beechers, who collected files of recruiting mail, say that none of the college coaches who originally expressed interest ever explained why they lost interest. They have a theory that they made a critical tactical mistake in how they approached the recruiting process.“We didn’t do any flirting with the lower (smaller, lesser known) schools,” said B.J. “We should have tried to get some offers from them and work our way up.”Beecher is widely regarded as a drop-back passer who thrives in a pro-style offense. The Beechers and Concord coach Glen Padgett agree that most college programs are straying from pro-style offenses and have become more interested in quarterbacks who are as adept at running the ball and throwing it. Avoiding a pass rush and running upfield is not one of Beecher’s strengths.Padgett says he and his staff sent film on Beecher to more than 125 schools. The only school that ever made Beecher a scholarship offer was Division II Wingate and that came after the Feb. 6 national signing day.A couple of other Division II schools and junior colleges, especially Arizona Western, in Yuma, expressed interest in the spring. Beecher, who at one time was so dismayed with the recruiting process that he considered giving up football, still held out for the opportunity to play at the Division I level.In early May, Padgett arranged for a meeting between Beecher and the offensive coordinator at East Carolina, whose offense is more compatible with Beecher’s strengths. The meeting led to a campus visit and Beecher agreed to a preferred walk-on agreement, which means he doesn’t have to try out for the team.Beecher starts summer classes and football workouts at ECU on June 20.“I definitely want to go up there and show them what I’ve got,” said B.J. “I think they underestimated me.”
Friday, Jun. 14, 2013
Concord’s Beecher a ‘preferred walk-on’ at ECU
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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