Because here at the triumphant end of a college career no price would have been too high to experience and enjoy Beckwith’s successes at Mississippi State. The team successes first, he’ll stress. Since joining the Bulldog roster in 2010, Beckwith has played some sort of part on five winning ball clubs. The result: five-consecutive bowl berths and 41 total victories (so far), both program records.
Then there is the book-shredding list of team and individual offensive standards written by current State runners and throwers and catchers, most here in 2014. Well and good, Beckwith agrees…as long as the Bulldogs make one last piece of season history by scoring a first-ever eleventh victory. That will have to come at the expense of Georgia Tech when Mississippi State lines-up for the Orange Bowl on New Years Eve.
If following a career track from Benton, Miss., to Miami isn’t story enough, remember that Beckwith came to campus as a walk-on guaranteed nothing but opportunity to prove himself. He has. Emphatically. Right guard Beckwith exits as a first-team All-SEC offensive lineman and third-team All-American. He also takes his MSU diploma with a kinesiology degree.
For that matter, he is not entirely done with amateur football or Florida when the calendar turns over. Beckwith and long-time linemate and roommate center Dillon Day are due back in Tampa ten days later for the East-West Shrine Game. There they will perform for the pro scouts who will have sizable say in what both Bulldogs are doing later in summer.
Price? What price? And hey, as Beckwith would say, the game will still be out there after this last Bulldog game is played.
How does it feel going through your final practice ever on this campus? “It’s been bittersweet coming to the end days her at the Leo Seal Complex. But, it’s been awesome coming through. Just having all these nice facilities and amenities and great coaches, new fields, everything has been awesome. I’ve been blessed. Not everybody has that, not even people in the League have that.”
“It’s bittersweet saying our goodbyes. So, just go on from there and get rolling for the bowl game.”
It must be rewarding to look around, think I helped build this facility, expand the stadium, draw record crowds and win record numbers of games? “Yeah. Always when people tell me that it kind of makes me look. Step back and look back and say hey, we’ve been blessed. We went from a good facility to a great facility. And we’ve been winning because of what people before us have set in place, the stepping stone you know. All the guys that have come through and put in the work and put the mindset in us of what we’re doing now.”
“For us to set that legacy for these young guys is the same thing. Two or three years down the road say heh, the Ben Beckwiths of the world and the Dillon Days of the world they set this for us; let’s keep it rolling. So yeah, it’s been awesome to say we kind of built this.”
In 2012 the team didn’t produce in the Gator Bowl, but last year’s team won games to get eligible and then won the Liberty Bowl. How do you think this team will approach the bowl game? “It’s a lot of confidence, a lot of swagger about us. We’re a mature team, I think we have 19 seniors. We’ve been to five bowl games, played in four and watched one. I mean we’re a mature group, we know what we’ve got to do. We know its business.”
“At the same time we’re having fun while we’re doing this. You know, watching the young guys get beat-up out there early in the week! And seeing them go through what we used to go through. At the same time we know we want to win. We want to win eleven games and leave on a good note. You never want to go out of a season with a loss, you know. It kind of rides you all the way to next season, in the off-season the coach is a little more mad at you, works you harder than they need to. You just want to go out with a win and have that mindset all the way, rolling through. Because I think our bowl game last year pushed us through and made us have a lot of momentum going into this year. So it’s a big deal, definitely, to win the game. Have fun, but at the same time know what the end goal is. Win the game.”
Two years ago you saw how much Northwestern wanted to beat a SEC team. Now it is Georgia Tech that will want to take you down too? “Oh yeah, definitely. You know, they beat Georgia, in a hostile environment. So you know they know how to play. You know they’re a good team. You don’t ever want to look over somebody.”
“They’re going to play their game, we’re going to play ours. I feel we match up well with them as far the offensive line. We like to run off the ball, we’re ‘Gs-and-3s’ and just hit them. Get back to running the ball and what we know, and just have fun with it. And our defense has been working really hard, they’re going to be ready to roll against that triple-option threat they have. We’re just going to be ready to rock, we’re excited.”
For the uninitiated explain the Gs-and-3s? “Oh, that’s just techniques they play on defense; inside shade on the guard, outside shade on the guard. Just where you can get your hands on them and it’s mano on mano.”
Which is your game? “Definitely. We enjoy it. We don’t like the little guys running around! We like the guys that try to sit there and take it on! So that’s our type of game.”
Do you ever stop to reflect, here I am a former walk-on from a little academy now getting All-America attention and playing in an all-star game? “Not really. I mean it’s been awesome. But at the same time I keep trying to do me every day. I always have a walk-on mindset, I’m always going to work hard and try to get better every day.”
“I don’t really let accolades get to my head. I mean they’re cool, awesome to get. But at the same time it’s all about winning games and enjoying it while you do it. I’ve had fun this year with the guys around me, our coaching staff has been awesome. Everybody has been fun this year and to get those accolades is cool. But just to be able to play football and keep doing it… Coming from a walk-on I’ve basically forgot about that now. I just enjoy being able to be on the field and play ball.”
How are you treated in the offensive line room now that you’ve won All-SEC and All-American? “Ahhh, some of them toy with me and stuff. But they know I’m not the type of guy that gloats and shows out and stuff like that. A lot of guys are happy for me, at the same time I’m who I am. I’m the same guy every day.”
I have to think Miami, and South Beach, is a universe removed from Benton, Mississippi? “Yeah, it’s a little different. We don’t even have a stoplight, I think they have a few of those down there!”
“But I’m a well-travelled guy, I’ve been out of the country. I’ve been blessed to have a family that travels a lot. So I’m used to stuff like that. I’m looking forward to it.”
Have any of you had a chance to talk to Dak Prescott about his plans for next year? “Oh, no. As far as that goes I don’t even mess with him. But like I’ve always told you in interviews we’re real tight. We’re best friends. Me, him, Damian Williams, we all hang out together which is awesome. We all treat each other the same. But we don’t even talk about football really. We play video games, we talk noise to each other, just enjoy it and just enjoy being away from football. Because we do football full-time it seems, we get the month of May off every year. Which after this I’m off for a little while from Mississippi State football, but hopefully I’ll be doing something else with football.”
“I’m sure he’ll make the best decision for him and his family. If it’s to come back that’s great; if it’s to go to the League that’s great. You have to trust him and trust his decision. If that’s what he believes he wants to do then he’ll excel at it. If he wants to come back he’ll excel at that. He’s a smart guy, he’ll do the right deal.”
I suppose the only down-side of bowling every winter is missing the best of hunting season? “Oh yeah, definitely. I go home and hunt my tail off for four days, and back at it again. I’ve gone a few times this year but yeah, it’s definitely been a downside to it. But at the same time it’s been fun. I wouldn’t trade it. Someone asked me earlier in the season would I rather be in a stand on a Saturday or in Davis Wade. I said Davis Wade, no doubt. But hunting was a close second! After the bowl game I’ll have a week off before I go to the all-star game and I’m sure I’ll get a little hunting in while I’m working and getting ready.”
What have they told you about the East-West Shrine Game? “Show up, show out, and try to prove a point. I’ll leave on the 10th and stay in Tampa, play on the 17th and just have a good time with it. It’s a cool deal, they have a great organization. We’ll visit kids in the hospital and do all the fun stuff. Me and Dillon are both going and we’re looking forward it. It will be a fun deal.”