It's not how Beckwith wanted to earn his promotion…but such stuff happens in football. And Mississippi State's next man at the position (at both guard positions for that matter) has earned this opportunity. Just the same as he earned a scholarship last year for regular special teams duty and substitute snaps.
Or was it his ability to room with center Dillon Day and survive all the late-night dining expeditions with Gabe Jackson that has earned his coaches' regard? Whatever the reasons, Beckwith finds himself alongside his two best buds on the Bulldog roster as the intact trio in the middle, as State kicks off SEC season this Saturday.
When Justin was injured you had to know you had a chance to start the next game? "Well, speaking on that, at Houston he went down. I was alright, let me go in here, I didn't really know the seriousness of the injury. I just thought hey, he went down but I'm going to go in here and not have any kind of fall-off. I just wanted everything be the same as if Justin was in the game. You always hate seeing your teammate go down, especially Justin. He's a great guy, he's never said a mean word to anybody."
"But at the same time I knew after the game they said he had a pretty serious injury, at the time they didn't know he was out for the season but they knew he was probably going to take a week or so to recover from it. My first thing was man, when I get back I want to get on my iPad, get on the stuff they get us and watch film, watch film. I want to be ready for anything, I want to know how to set, how to do this, do that; that way I don't let anybody down. Dak (Prescott) is going to get his first start, I want to be up there with him in my first start and say hey man, we did it together, I never let you get hit, I want to protect you and make sure we win this game. That's really the only thing that matters at the end of the day, helping your teammates and getting the W."
When did you know you would be starting? "Basically all through the week me and Damien rotated. They really never game me word. Then Thursday I was real anxious, I was like man I want to know who's got the job? You know, you want to have the mindset going into the game. Thursday at the end of practice he kind of gave me the, you know, you're going to start and we're going to work Damien in there too. Because I knew he was going to rotate us. We don't have a lot of guards right now, I think three that have experience; me, Damien, and Archie (Muniz), and I knew we were going to rotate and get that experience with Damien in case God forbid something does happen. Because that's how a season goes, you never know. When shoelace breaks, anything these days in college football; a helmet falls off you've got to come out. So everybody has got to be ready. That's really when I found out, Thursday."
Did you get to see yourself introduced on the jumbotron? "Actually that's fun. Everybody was like how was the first time to see yourself on the jumbotron? We were actually kicking our pregame field goals so I was down in my ‘rocker' stance (the outside blocker), I got to hear my name. I was like that's pretty cool, but I never got to see my face. So I don't even know if I looked like a goober up there."
"So it was kind of funny, because everybody was like man that was cool, we got to see you up there. I was like yeah, I didn't get to see it. And everybody was like did you see your hair whipping and I was nah, I didn't see that! It kind of surprised me with that because when I did my headshot they were like just shake your hair around; I was like OK, I guess I'll do this! Then I come to find out they're going to put it on the jumbotron so that was kind of funny."
How did you grade out for the game? "I watched the film, I had a few technique breaks, just kind of some steps here and there, some nit-picky things. But as far as a group I feel we played really good and a bunch of guys got experience. And I felt like I played pretty well. I don't think I had any just terrible plays, I had like I said some bad steps or something like that. but as a whole group we got a bunch of guys experience which we needed, a bunch of redshirt guys like Justin (Senior) and Devon (Desper). I think as a group it was fun for everybody to get experience and get everybody a little confidence too."
Were you glad to get a first start against an Alcorn State before a SEC start? "Absolutely. It's funny, me and Gabe room together on Friday nights in the hotel. I was like man, this is going to be awesome, my first start. I was kind of glad, not to play them down any, but it's good to get one under your belt before you go into SEC game like Auburn. You know, big-time guys; big, strong guys. You really use technique in games like this. And that's exactly what I said to Gabe, I'm so glad I was able to get one under my belt. Because you know you're going to be a lot more anxious if you went into a SEC West game that is going to have a lot to do with your season, one of our biggest games of the season early on. So I was happy about that."
What did Gabe tell you about the first start? "We were sitting in the room, I was on my iPad and he was just kind of laid-back. It's no big deal, another game to him; I'm on my iPad just trying to figure out everything and anything I can before the game. He's like man just relax, if you don't know it now you're not going to know it. You should know everything, you're a good player, you know what you're doing out there. He really gives me confidence in myself because sometimes it will be man, I don't know if I can do this or that. He's like you've been doing this for four years, you know how to do it, Coach Hevesy has done all this with you, he gives you the right technique, gives you the right clues. And you're going to go out there and do what you're supposed to do. He's a guy that gives you a lot of confidence when you talk to him."
Last year you said that you knew you belonged with this team as a walk-on, how much does this reinforce your confidence? "Oh, it's awesome. Actually when I got put on scholarship me and Coach Mullen talked about that. He was like I've trusted you with the ‘shield' on our punt which is a big thing to him; I've trusted you on rocker, I've trusted you on backup any time someone goes down. He said I feel like it's your time and we give you something for doing all that. Man, I can't tell you, that was one of the best times I've ever had."
"And getting my first start, that over-topped it really. Because the scholarship was awesome but getting your first real start, your first real significant snaps in a game really overshadowed that. It was a great experience, my family loved it, and I want to get out there and make sure the team didn't fall-off when I came in the game. I tried to even make it better. Justin is a great player and I just want to keep it there, I wanted to make it look like no one got hurt or anything happened."
Describe that ‘rocker' position? "The rocker is the guy on field goals that if you watch most of the time I'm going to be on the ground; you ‘rock' in there and are on your heels and throw your arms out, and get hit on this shoulder and this shoulder by two guys running off the edge. So basically you get crushed every time."
Day and Jackson have a lot of fun, does that go to other guys? "Me and Dillon have lived together since our redshirt freshman year, since we could move off campus. So me and Dillon and Gabe are always around each other, going out to eat. I'm usually the one recording the stupid ‘Vines' so I'm kind of like the guy behind the scenes. But man, they're two great guys. Gabe's a great leader, Dillon is more outspoken but Gabe leads by example. He's always doing the right thing, making sure everybody does what they're supposed to do, kind of like the ‘dad' of the group. And Dillon is the guy that you can kind of joke around with, at the same time when it's time to go it's time to go. He knows the role to play when he needs to play it."
What is an afternoon like with you three guys? "Basically after practice we're all kind of moody. Like, man, it was hot today, let's go to the house. We're always laid-back in the recliner and playing video games or something, Dillon is always the one over there taking snap-chats of himself; man come do this, let's make a video, do this and that! We're like man, we're so tired, during camp and stuff. Last week was one of the hottest practices we've had, not even two-a-days was that hot."
"Dillon is always the one that is going to get us going. He's like let's go, let's go…I'm like yeah I'll shoot the video, as long as I can sit down you know? But he's always wanting you to do some crazy stuff. It's funny to be around those guys."
He hasn't talked you into any tattoos yet? "I think he's already got a trip planned for his next set of tattoos, he's going to Orlando or something like that. He's big into that kind of stuff."
"He goes to New Orleans sometimes and does them. But I don't try to tell him to do stuff. Because his Mom doesn't really like the tattoos, so I want to be on her good side because she always cooks for us when she comes to the house! I want her always giving me a good meal! So I don't try to make him get tattoos, but I'm not against them either."
Do you all make fun of each other? "Oh yeah, we're always picking on each other all the time. We'll watch film and during practice do something stupid, like go down to ‘cut' and a guy loops-outside. Like I did in the game Saturday and I caught myself with my hands. We'll just kind of pick with each other on stuff like that. There's a lot of funny things that go on in football that you wouldn't think goes on in practice and stuff. Just stuff you don't see a lot on TV but in practice and the facility a lot of funny stuff goes wrong."
Can all three of you get in your car to go to Taco Bell? "Basically we're going to go there. Taco Bell is a really cheap place and we're probably going to end up spending $20 apiece there. We pretty much go in there and wreck the place. I'll tell you how bad it is, the woman at the drive-through basically knows us all by name, she knows what drinks we want and what sauces we want with our meals. That's kind of a fat-guy deal of the O-line, we're going to go eat late and our fifth meal of the day we're going to go about midnight and get us something at Taco Bell or something."
Do you know the lady's name? "I don't know her name, I'm not that good with it yet."
You might get some free stuff? "I haven't got nothing free like that, you have to pay for everything, just go by the NCAAs and that stuff."
What was it like learning behind an All-SEC guy like Gabe? "I'd say that is what has made it so much easier of a transition. Saturday I went in more excited than with nerves, and I was like this is my chance to show. I've been working behind a guy that is one of the best guys I've ever been around. I came in and saw Derek Sherrod my freshman year when I redshirted so I got to watch him progress. He's a tackle though; but Gabe I picture him the same as Derek was. I mean just a perfect, I wouldn't say perfect but he tries to do everything perfect (in) technique. Coach (John) Hevesy instills that in everybody, when we watch film it's like watch Gabe right here, he does everything the right way and that's why he's where he's at in his career. He's a highly-recognized guard in the country and he's there because of the technique and hard work. That's not any other reason, I mean he has great talent but he's worked his way up to be one of the best in the country. I look up to him and it's been great for me to work behind him my three years here and just watch him every day."
Has anyone accused you of being on the baseball team? "Actually somebody tweeted at me after the game Saturday and said looks like Ben Beckwith is going to try out for the baseball team with that beard he has. I've had a beard for a while. It's funny, the baseball team had all that stuff going on with their beards and how they were winning. So it's funny people recognize that; before if you have a beard and you have long hair you're a ‘Duck Commander' looking guy. Now it's you look like a baseball player, so it's funny how stuff transitions over."