Beck making up for lost time

Blytheville junior quarterback Brice Beck hopes to use this spring and summer to improve his development and college prospects after dislocated shoulder cut short his 2003 campaign after just three games.

After a junior season that ended far too early, Blytheville junior quarterback Brice Beck is looking to turn some heads this spring and summer.

The 6-3, 230-pound signal caller has already done so with a sparkling performance recently at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

"I went down to the combine, which was really more of a 7-on-7 thing than anything else," Beck said. "I thought I threw the ball well, I ran a 4.8 in the 40 and my vertical was 30 inches. I know that I am playing catch up a little bit."

Beck, who was on the University of Arkansas campus last Saturday for an unofficial visit, was injured in his third game of the 2003 season and thus his junior campaign came to an abrupt end when he dislocated his shoulder after passing for over 800 yards.

"It was a real big letdown and I must tell you that it not only hurt physically, but mentally as well because I missed being out there trying to help my teammates win and also it hurt my confidence level about being seen and what it might mean to be as far as college goes," Beck said. "But I'm back to 100 percent and things are picking up for me."

Beck, who completed 115 of 276 passes for 16 touchdowns as a sophomore, was happy he got to attend last Saturday's UA practice and was immediately greeted by UA head coach Houston Nutt.

"I really like the Razorbacks and their program," Beck said. "I got up there about 30 minutes before practice and Coach Nutt came right to me, made me feel very welcomed and important and took me on a tour of the Walker Pavilion before they started practice and told me about the plans for their new weight facility. It's going to be great."

Interestingly, Beck spent a lot of the practice talking to future Razorback quarterback Alex Mortensen, who signed with Arkansas in February and is actually attending all of the UA's spring practice via a leave of absence from his school.

"He's a great guy and we talked a lot about how they practice and the things they do," Beck said. "Some people might think that was strange, but everybody knows that when it comes to college there are plenty of great players at each school and it's just a matter of everybody working together to win and putting in the effort to make yourself a better player."

Beck said he enjoyed the Razorbacks' up-tempo practice.

"It was cool to see what the quarterbacks do during practice and I really like how up-tempo it was and how much they actually get done during a practice," Beck said. "I was very impressed with that."

Beck has gone to either Junior Days or practices now at Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Memphis and Arkansas State.

"Right now I would say that I have spent the most time on Ole Miss' campus because it is close to my home and I really like the coaches and what they are doing down there just as I do up at Arkansas," Beck said. "I'd say right now that Ole Miss and Arkansas are at the top of my list."

Beck is also getting some interest from Notre Dame, a school whose football camp he attended last summer.

"They are sending me some letters and I hope there interest continues obviously," Beck said. "It's a great school."

Beck will likely attend camps at Arkansas, Ole Miss and Notre Dame this summer.

"It's just all about getting better as a player and giving myself the best shot when it comes to my college future," Beck said.

After such a short junior season, Beck is looking forward to what he and his team could get accomplished next season.

"We have a lot of people coming back, three of our offensive linemen and three of our receivers and a lot of our defensive people," Beck said. "I think we have a chance to be really, really good."

One of Beck's favorite targets is wideout Chris Smith (6-1, 175, 4.45), who is also being recruited by Arkansas and will be on hand for this Saturday's Red-White game in Fayetteville.

"He's just a great player," Beck said. "He's not only got speed, but he's really tough and likes to go over the middle and make catches as well, which makes him very tough to cover and keep up with. He's also very good at reading defenses and knows how to get my attention without being obvious and then we are able to pick on the secondary with the reads."

Beck expects his development and his team's spread offense to benefit next season because of the hiring of new offensive coordinator Shawn Jackson, who had been at Hayti, Mo.

"He has already helped me with my film study, my footwork and my fundamentals when it comes to throwing," Beck said. "I think when you put it all together it's going to lead to a great senior season for both myself and Blytheville."

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