RECRUITING UDPATE: Odell Beckham
LSU legacy leads son to Baton Rouge (with audio from Newman coach)
It just sort of seemed like Isidore Newman athlete Odell Beckham was born to be an LSU Tiger.
After all, his father, Odell Beckham, Sr., played halfback for LSU in the late 1980s and early 1990s, while his mother, Heather Van Norman excelled in the Tigers’ athletic scene, as well, serving as an All-American track and field athlete.
After fielding 22 scholarship offers, Beckham finally made it official, announcing Saturday at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that he’d continue his family’s rich LSU bloodline, giving a verbal pledge to Les Miles.
“He’s just been raised as a Tiger, if you will, in terms of them going to games and visiting the university,” Newman coach Nelson Stewart said. “I think he has a natural affection there. The coaching staff has done an exceptional job of recruiting him, especially coaches Frank Wilson and Billy Gonzales, really opening the door and showing him what there is to see at the university, not just being an LSU football player.”
Beckham was thrust into the All-American game after having a dominant season.
The Newman standout was the first Greenie since Cooper Manning in 1991 to receive for more than 1,000 yards, hauling in 50 passes for 1,110 yards and 19 touchdowns through the air.
He also rushed 50 times for 331 yards and six touchdowns, while returning two punts for touchdowns, as well.
That offensive transformation was due to some physical growth from Beckham, who has put on both height and weight in the past year, according to Stewart.
The prospect is currently listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds by most recruiting publications.
“He went from a 5-foot-10-inch, 165-pound slot wide receiver to being our ‘X’ and going on the perimeter and establishing himself as a bigger threat,” Stewart said. “But he also played quarterback for us, he played running back for us. … He was our team MVP and was a captain on our team as a real quiet leader. He really exceeded any and all expectations he had when he came in as a freshman.”
CLICK HERE for a separate Nelson Stewart interview, conducted by Tiger Rag Radio’s Ben Love and Jeff Palermo, in which the Newman coach talks about Odell Beckham’s decision to commit to LSU and where the player projects, position-wise, at the college level.
On defense, Beckham wasn’t half bad, either, intercepting four passes for the Greenies’ unit that allowed 20 points per contest this year.
It’s that success on both sides of the football that has Beckham listed as an athlete, according to recruiting services.
Stewart said the prospect is willing to play either offense or defense, but he believes his skill set will translate well on offense.
“I really believe he’ll translate best as a wide receiver,” Stewart said. “The reason being is that one, as a defensive back, he’s a great man-to-man player and he can tackle and he’s real physical, but I do think, especially after the year he had this year, it was very evident that he’s transformed into the upper echelon of wide receivers in the Southeast and in the country. That’s mostly because of his growth in size and his ball skills.”
Those ball skills, combined with the prospect’s natural receiving instincts combine for what Stewart believes is a well-polished collegiate product.
“He has huge hands,” Stewart said. “He plays on the basketball team and he can dunk it with ease and palm the basketball. He doesn’t drop passes and he’s a great route runner who comes in and out of his breaks well.”
At the All-American Bowl, Stewart said the prospect performed well, relishing in his opportunity to play against the best prospects in America.
“He’s tired because the practices are really long and really hard,” Stewart said with a laugh. “But he’s really enjoying being able to compete with the best players in the country.”
Stewart said Beckham has spent plenty of time in and around Baton Rouge, both throughout his life and recruiting process.
The coach said from that time, he has taken a liking to several LSU players, comparing his game to that of a hybrid between Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle.
“He’s a tough guy to pigeon hole into any one category,” Stewart said. “But being around him, I know that he thinks very highly of guys like Russell Shepard at LSU. He runs routes with him during the summer and there’s a pretty good relationship there. He really looks up more than anything with Rueben and the guys that he’s been in contact with over at LSU. He’s very fond of them.”
Now he’ll get a chance to be their teammate and if all the predictions are correct, that should truly be something to see.
Beckham’s been groomed for this his whole life.
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