Beckstrom Just Happy to Play Football Again

<P>Injuries happen in football. A player never knows when he is going to be dealt the blow of having to sit out for the year. Some players handle it better than others. Jason Beckstrom sees his injury as a blessing and an opportunity. </P>

Beckstrom was all set for his final season. He had done the work in the weight room and he really felt comfortable in the new system. "Going into last year I'm thinking in my mind this is my final year of eligibility. I really wanted to work hard in the summer and get myself into the best shape I could and then I get an injury. You have to sit down and look at your life in a different perspective. It was a humbling experience because I had to sit on the sideline and watch guys who were playing in what I thought would be my spot if I worked hard. I sat down with my parents and my coaches and I realized that it really could've been a blessing that I got hurt. From then on, I took this situation and said that I needed to make the best of it."

Making the best of a situation is always easier said that done. "It really was difficult to sit on the sidelines," Beckstrom said. "Everyone is competitive at this level. Everybody wants to be on the field. As the season went on and I got well it got even harder to sit on the sideline because physically I felt I could go out there. You still have to sit out and make sure everything is healed so I can be the best player I can be. I think it was a really good experience because I got to learn a lot. I learned everything about the defense. Things that receivers try to do to manipulate you while you are playing corner. I really did learn a lot."

Beckstrom has played a lot of football at Notre Dame and some people seem to forget about that. He played as a true freshman and has started five games in the past. Nobody expected Shane Walton to have the season he had last year. Can we expect something magical from Beckstrom this year? "I think they can expect me to go out there and give it everything I have. I've always had the mindset that there is always someone out there better than me so my heart has to be that much bigger. I believe that when I step on the field that I can out-will and out-play anybody with the size of my heart. I'm going to do my best to dominate the guy across the ball from me."

Beckstrom looked at all areas of his game as he sat and watched from the sidelines. He is noticeably thinner and he said he thinks the less weight is going to help him this year. "I was pretty big for a corner. I was 5-10 and 196 pounds. The past couple of years I have been running track and I kind of slimmed down. I think I put on some more mass but I think I'm a little lighter than I had been. I think it's going to help my mobility because my sophomore year I felt I was a little heavy. I had trouble running long distances and keeping up with a receiver. Now I'm down to 185 and I feel more nimble and more quick on my feet so I think it's going to work out for me better to play at this weight."

One of the hardest things Beckstrom had to deal with was not being able to compete. Beckstrom finally got his wish a few days ago when the Irish put on the pads and he was able to go out and hit someone. "It felt wonderful. I hadn't done anything competitive from a football perspective for nine months. At this time, we've been through five or six practices and I just trying to work out the rust. I'm coming back and I'm fresh and I feel like I have a newfound love for the game. It's really fun to be out there with the guys and talking trash. We hang out and we see each other in the dining hall and we go back and forth saying what we are going to do to each other at practice. We kind of have a competition with the receivers and I think it's healthy for our team. It's fun to go against those guys because those guys—as you saw last year—make a lot of plays and one day they are going to be some of the best receivers in the NFL. The fact that they are premier receivers is going to help me on defense."

While Beckstrom is healthy; he hasn't spent a lot of time actually playing in the new defensive system. Beckstrom feels he learned the system last year by just watching but he has had to deal with some anxiety and rust. "I think whenever you come back from something and you've been waiting a long time, it's more anxiousness and anxiety. You have to kind of calm yourself down because your mind gets running and you haven't been out there for a while. You want to play so bad you might backpedal too fast and give the receiver a lot of room in front of you to make a play so you have to slow your mind down and slow down your thinking process."

Beckstrom was all smiles when speaking. He is just happy to be back on the field and he appreciates the experiences he has had while at Notre Dame. "I'm one of those people that believes that things happen for a reason," said Beckstrom. "I think is probably the best thing that could have happened to me. Shane left so now I get the chance to fill his shoes and keep the tradition of a great secondary at Notre Dame running. When we lost Shane, we lost a big time leader both on the field and off the field. I think that our team is going to have a lot of senior leadership and I think that with me coming back, I can help provide that for the team."

I can't remember another time I saw a player smile as much as Beckstrom did. Beckstrom is just happy to get another opportunity and I don't think he will let that opportunity pass him by. Jason Beckstrom is just having fun playing football again and he couldn't be happier to have that opportunity. Top Stories