Many LSU fans can recall former Tiger running back Odell Beckham, Sr. from his days of playing under Mike Archer and Curley Hallman.
Beckham heard his name called plenty of times on Saturday nights in Tiger Stadium and he always dreamed of hearing his son’s name called by Public Address Announcer Dan Borne and seeing him follow in his footsteps.
Whether or not Isidore Newman athlete Odell Beckham, Jr. follows the same path that his father took remains to be seen but Les Miles has given him the same opportunity that his father had as LSU extended an official scholarship offer to the younger Beckham on Monday morning.
Odell, Sr. flashed his skills for the Tigers as a running back and in 1991 he led a Tiger team that finished 5-6 in rushing with 397 yards on 81 carries.
Just like his father, Odell, Jr. also plays on offense – wide receiver – where he caught 45 passes for 743 yards and 10 touchdowns, and also added 123 yards and three scores on 14 rushes for a Newman squad that saw its season end at 9-3 with a second round playoff loss to Capitol.
Beckham also started at cornerback and led the team with four interceptions and broke up five more passes to go with 21 tackles – 19 solos and 2 assists. It didn’t end there, either, as he returned 15 kickoffs for 384 yards (25.6 avg.) and three scores along with four punts for 112 (28.0 avg.) yards and a touchdown.
Making plays in all three phases of the game is something that Odell, Jr. has done quite often for Stewart and it will also give him several options at the next level.
“He has tremendous leaping ability and extremely large hands,” Stewart said. “He catches the ball very well and is a great route runner. He comes in and out of his breaks so quick and I just think his athleticism and leaping ability make him a great fit on offense.
“He’s a shutdown corner and towards the end of the year he would man up against the wide outs when we would roll Ronnie down in the box,” Steward said of his defensive prowess. “He has very good man to man skills and he’s real smart and a student of the game. And he can also be very dangerous returning kicks too.”
LSU defensive backs coach Ron Cooper played the lead role in recruiting Beckham’s teammate and current 2010 commitment Ronnie Vinson who is projected to play cornerback for the Tigers.
Stewart isn’t sure if Beckham will end up on the defensive of the ball at the next level, but he does know that LSU covets him on both sides of the line.
“The letter didn’t say but I know they have him rated very high as a defensive back and wide receiver,” Stewart stated. “I really think he will be a wide out but he can do both. The letter just said he’s a special athlete.”
Stewart has seen Beckham grow in more ways than one over the years. He’s seen him grow as a receiver from having to match up against Vinson in practice every day and he’s also seen him grow and mature physically.
“He’s 5-11 and 170 pounds and when you put a watch on him he’s going to clock in the 4.4-4.5 range consistently,” Stewart explained. “Just over the last year he’s grown three inches and added 20-30 pounds so next year we’re probably going to be looking at a different type of player altogether.”
The offer from LSU is Beckham’s first, but surely not his last, and the fact that his first overture came from the Tigers makes it all the more special.
“It definitely made it more special,” Beckham said. “I look up to my dad a lot and my mom and I just love LSU. It put my mind at ease some.”
Tennessee is another school that could play prominently into Beckham’s decision-making process as his mother – Heather Van Norman – is an assistant track coach up in Knoxville where she coaches the sprinters. Heather has some LSU ties of her own as she was a standout sprinter at LSU at the same time Odell, Sr. was playing for the Tigers.
Athletics run deep in Odell, Jr.’s support system as his step-father – Derrick – is a sprint coach at Tulane as well.
With three strong influences having a college pedigree at numerous places it should make the recruiting process run more smoothly for all involved.
“It makes it a lot easier because they can give me advice on anything I need,” said Odell, Jr., who is also fielding early interest from UCLA, TCU, Colorado, La. Tech and Tennessee. “They tell me to keep my head on straight and not commit too early and really think of what I want to do. They stress looking at all my options.”
Odell, Jr. has experienced some of what LSU has to offer when he stood on the sideline inside Tiger Stadium earlier this year as his father was recognized as an honorary captain prior to kickoff of the Tigers’ matchup against Florida on Oct. 10.
“That was an incredible feeling,” said Odell, Jr. “Then when both teams came out and they were meeting at the middle it got my heart racing. I had been to LSU games before but that was definitely the most intense and most exciting so far. Being on the field in Death Valley was just something that you can’t really explain.”
That experience along with the early offer has LSU up high on Odell, Jr.’s list as the Tigers sit there with one of his two childhood favorites.
“They’re definitely at the top; top two,” he said. “Miami is up there too. I’ve been watching Miami ever since I was a little kid so those are my top two.”
Next up for Odell, Jr. is the opportunity to speak with someone from LSU and he expects to do so when he gets home. It shouldn’t be too hard for the LSU coaches to know he wants to speak with them as he has a good middle man in Vinson.
Heck, Vinson knew that Odell, Jr.’s Monday was going to get off to a good start long before the letter arrived.
“He knew before me and he had been messing with me,” Odell, Jr. quipped. “He was pretty excited though. We talked about being able to play together all this year and now we have the chance to do that.”