Fast Track: Beck uses speed workouts to add explosive element to his game

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Oct. 9, 2007 - Getting to school at 6:30 in the morning isn't the dream of any high school student. Especially when you don't have to be there.

But, that didn't keep SSHS senior Jeff Beck from showing up last spring before the sun came up to go through early morning track workouts. The ironic thing is, Beck doesn't run track.

"I didn't do it to run track. I did it to get faster," said Beck, the son of Bobby and DaLyn Beck. "We had track workouts at 6 o'clock in the morning, and I went to all of those, and then this summer I was committed. I went to 100 percent of the workouts in the morning this summer."

The speed sessions worked. Beck dropped a full tenth of a second in his 40-yard dash time and clocked a 4.5 this summer.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Riordan said Beck's commitment has been the difference in his production this season.

"Jeff's added a different element to his game," Riordan said. "He's always been that type of receiver to catch the ball because he has great hands. With his hard work this summer and his hard work in the spring, he's added a speed element to it, and that's what is separating him now."

Last year, Beck was an Honorable Mention All-District wide receiver after catching 37 passes for 404 yards and one TD. After five games this season, Beck is on pace to double his production from '06.

He has already caught 37 passes for 420 yards and three TDs including an electrifying 42-yard catch-and-run against Liberty-Eylau that was his longest reception of the season.

On top of that, he is the team's top kickoff returner (11 for 218 yards) and punt returner (5 for 34 yards). Beck also holds on extra points, and ran in a two-point conversion on Friday after a low snap.

"He's versatile," Riordan said. "He's one of those kids who can do it all. The great hands element puts him at PAT and punt returns. Kickoff returns, he probably wouldn't be there if he didn't go through the track workouts. He's got a little shake to him and he can go now."

Beck wasn't always a receiver. He played quarterback up to his sophomore year when he split time with Tyrick Rollison on JV. But, Riordan could tell his heart wasn't into playing that position.

"When we got here in the spring (of '06), we were looking for a quarterback. The last staff told us Jeff Beck was a pretty good quarterback, but every day when I would go get him, he didn't seem like he wanted to go," Riordan explained. "So, I told him to just stay with the receivers, and I'm glad I did.

"He's our leading receiver and the leading receiver in the district."

Beck leads a contingent of starting Wildcat receivers who have each caught at least 22 passes for more than 300 yards and three TDs. His sure-handedness has made him the favorite target of Rollison.

"All of those guys are capable," Riordan said. "Ty's confidence is growing at all levels, and right now his most confidence may be in Beck. It seems like when we need a big play or a big third-down conversion or he gets in trouble, he seems to find Beck."

Beck, who also plays shortstop in baseball where he was a Second Team All-District pick, put it pretty succinctly.

"I like catching the ball and I like to run," he said. "This offense makes it fun."

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