Beckner was named to the Freshman All-American team by The Sporting News, along with teammates Walter Brady and Corey Fatony, and that trio also earned Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team honors.
But Beckner’s season was cut short when he tore his ACL and MCL against BYU on Nov. 14 and he’s still recovering from that knee injury this spring while his teammates go through spring practice.
“It was hard to stay positive because I never had an injury until then,” Beckner said Saturday. “I’ve never been through an injury. It’s pretty tough. Physically, you’ll be all right once you get back into action. It’s just a mental process, it will tear you down a little bit.”
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound rising sophomore said Saturday he feels good, health-wise, while he continues to rehab the injury.
“I’m just focused on just trying to get my knee back right and get back out here and be with my guys,” he said.
Beckner’s injury has him wearing a red jersey this spring to signify that he’s not allowed to be hit by his teammates, so the East St. Louis, Ill., native is basically going through mental reps with his teammates while he learns the system installed by head coach Barry Odom and new defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross.
“It’s totally different now,” the defensive tackle said. “You just have to get back into your film study now — just watch film and keep going over your plays.”
Beckner made plenty of plays during his debut season.
He played in 10 games, making five starts, and recorded 27 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two quarterback hurries, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery.
Beckner was well deserving of the postseason accolades, though when asked on Saturday about how he thought he performed during his freshman campaign he was low-key and humble.
“I don’t know,” Beckner said. “I guess I did all right.”