This wasn't the way Brian Beckmann saw his senior year playing out.
Expected to be an anchor - the anchor - on the offensive line for the Overland Park (KS) Blue Valley West Jaguars this season, the 6-foot-6, 310-pound offensive tackle suffered an injury shortly before the first game. While not serious enough to hamper his collegiate future, that injury did manage to sideline him for the entirety of his senior campaign.
To say Beckmann was frustrated would be something of an understatement.
"Of course I was disappointed, because I'm standing there every practice," he said. "I'm helpless, I can't do anything to help my teammates out, so there's always that isappointment. But I did have that reassurance that Coach (Reggie) Mitchell and Coach (Turner) Gill were always comforting, saying they would honor my scholarship. So that's one thing I always trusted greatly about them."
Beckmann committed to Gill, Mitchell and the Kansas Jayhawks in mid-summer, following a recruiting process during which he left no stone unturned. At that point, he figured things were over. The decision had been made, and all that was left was the excitement of anticipation – leading first to a big senior year on the gridiron, graduation from high school and, finally, the chance to don the Crimson and Blue.
Once again, life proved to have different plans.
When the Jayhawks walked off the field Saturday at the conclusion of the annual Border War with Missouri, they did so for the final time in 2011 - on the back end of a 10-game losing streak. Less than 24 hours later, Kansas Athletics sent out a press release.
Turner Gill had been relieved of his duties as head coach after two seasons on Mount Oread, and Beckmann, who had formed a bond with Gill, was disappointed – as was his entire family.
"We really liked Coach Gill and we all feel if he was given another year or two he would have proven that he can be successful," he said. "I just think the short amount of time he was given, the challenge he faced, was extremely difficult in that small amount of time."
One small positive was that Mitchell - his lead recruiter - was named interim head coach in Gill's stead. The Kansas recruiting coordinator and running backs coach, known for his strong ties to the Kansas City metropolitan area, spoke with Beckmann on Saturday night prior to Gill's firing, and again on Monday.
"He just wanted to let me know that they were going to honor my scholarship," he said. "And that they still wanted me there."
Now, like most of the Class of 2012 prospects currently committed to Kansas, Beckmann will wait and see upon whom the Jayhawks settle as Gill's successor before making any major decisions.
A self-described "KU guy," he doesn't just love the football program - he loves the university. So for now, he remains committed.
"I've got to find out who the coaching staff is and get to know them, too," Beckmann said. "So I look forward to meeting whoever that will be. But I'll always be disappointed that this happened."