Beck to the Future

Cougar fans, would you like to have a Joe Germaine clone behind center? That's how one expert describes John Beck, the recently returned missionary who led his team to a 5A state title. Beck threw an amazing 42 TDs his senior season at Mountain View (Ariz.) with only four interceptions, but can he duplicate it at BYU? We'll soon find out. Read on to learn more about this amazing signal-caller…

John Beck, who earned Arizona State Player of the Year honors his senior year at Mountain View High in Ariz., is the odd recruit who becomes more heavily recruited after high school than during it. Mission plans may have temporarily turned off some big D-I names but during and after his mission, the Beck phone lines were busy with college coaches trying to lure the young quarterback to their programs. Ultimately, it came down to two. Here's the Q&A we did with Beck Thursday afternoon detailing the past, present and possible future…

There's been a lot of speculation that other colleges have come after you… Are you still heading to Provo?
Actually, I'm driving up there tonight. I'm moving stuff this weekend to an apartment complex in Provo near the hospital that just opened up in October. The (BYU) coaches recommended it. I'll room with my younger brother, a buddy who just came back from his mission to Germany today, Quinn Gooch, who I met when we went to BYU summer school and live in the Deseret Towers. The plan tonight is to drive eight hours and stay with my grandmother in Beaver (Utah) and then do the other three or four hours tomorrow.

Tell us about your mission?
I served in Portugal, including being out on the Azore Islands for six months, and got home October 23. When I first got there, we only taught three or four discussions per week with five baptisms per month. In the summer of 2001, Elder Richard G. Scott gave a blessing on our mission and after that things exploded. When I left we were getting 25 discussions per week with 60 baptisms per month.

What have you been doing since coming home to get back into shape?
I work out three hours in the morning with a personal trainer, Tim McClellan. He was the old strength trainer for ASU and trains (Philadelphia Eagles quarterback) Donovan McNabb and (former BYU linebacker and current Indianapolis Colts linebacker) Rob Morris. In the afternoon I throw with several buddies getting ready for football.

Heading into your senior year of high school what were you thinking?
Actually, I wanted to have a good year and go to ASU. Eventually, I started getting letters from other schools which opened my mind to other schools.

What happened after your high school career wrapped up?
I had gone to summer school at BYU in 2000 and they offered a scholarship then. I told them I'd think about it and eventually committed to them before I left. Miami called during my mission and ASU, Oklahoma and Oregon kept in touch with my high school coach. A few days ago, Oregon called my house, still trying to talk to me. On my mission, things had changed in both programs I was seriously considering, ASU and BYU, and I faced a tough decision. I have a lot of family and friends in Arizona, but when I went up to BYU on my official visit I got the answer. For the first couple days I was indecisive. One day, I walked across campus and had a lot of time to think. Later, I was throwing the ball around with a friend and got a very good feeling that this was the place to be.

So BYU wasn't on your radar at one point not too long ago…
It's funny, ever since I was young, my family has followed the Cougars. They went to every Holiday Bowl. When I went to junior high, though, I overlooked it and five years ago I didn't want to go there. Now, the potential with Coach (Gary) Crowton is huge and I can see that we're going to be great.

It's ironic that the college interest picked up more after you committed to BYU before your mission…
Yea, it's funny how the recruiting interest came after I left high school. At the time I was at Mountain View, colleges picked up guys during the season and I got overlooked. My coach told schools like Oklahoma and UCLA that I was going on a mission and they told us, ‘Talk to us when you get back.'

Why do you think you were overlooked despite having an awesome senior season?
I didn't really care. I figured I'd come back in two years and show everyone I could play. There were reminders, though. I was playing in a (high school) baseball game and somebody in the opposing stands yelled out, ‘Hey Beck, maybe you can get a scholarship in baseball.'

What are BYU coaches telling you about your chances to play next season?
They tell me they want me to come in and compete and do the best I can. My focus is to go up there and be prepared. The coaches will make the decision that's best for the team.

Describe your self as a quarterback…
I don't really like talking about himself. I don't know, I just play ball. Ever since I was eight, my dad would set up dummies in the street; I just love the game and love to practice. I always try to be prepared. Now that I'm in college I want to move faster than the game's going. I remember how people would describe Joe Montana: the way he played like he knew what was going to be happening.

Your best sports memory...
I'd have to say our state championship in high school because that's something people can't take away. Being with teammates who had known each other since we were eight and knowing we'd be together at Mountain View, then hitting them with TD passes in the state championship game. After all we had worked hard for, the dream became realized.

What's one thing about John Beck that few people know?
I guess the fact that I never get nervous about anything. It comes from me always wanting to be prepared. All my friends in Pop Warner would make fun of me because they'd be nervous as we were driving to games and I'd be asleep. I feel really comfortable at the end of the game when we're down.

You're described as a "workout freak"… true?
(Laughs) I admit I like spending three hours in the gym, two hours on the field, running stadium stairs… that's fun for me. All of this is going for a purpose. It's like a mission, knocking on doors for three days. When you get that one, it makes it all worthwhile.

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