Beal Takes D-Line Task Upon Himself

OU defensive end Jeremy Beal has always had a knack for quickness and getting through defenders, but not always in the most usual settings.

Heck, he had to do it inside his own house growing up.

"Hey, but [my brothers] help me out with my quickness, too," Beal said. "They help me out with the quickness. [Back when we were younger] they will tease me, I go hit them or something and run back to my mom real fast.

"So you've got to be quick to move throughout the obstacles in the house, you know, and get back to my mom. So, I mean, but yeah it's kind of ironic that it helped me out with [toughness] and my quickness."

Aside from dodging couches and such to get away from his brothers, something else that helped out with his quickness is the variety of sports he participated in when he was younger.

"Yeah, I played almost every sport except for like hockey," Beal said. "I played baseball, basketball, soccer."

He'll make a confession about that.

"I wasn't that good at soccer," Beal said. "My mom will tell you that."

But the other two are a different story.

"I was pretty good at baseball," Beal said. "I was just a [solid] pitcher, but basketball I scored 26 points one time."

So these experiences all had an influence on his ability to get around defenders and establish quickness.

And it's something he's thankful for, especially the role his brothers have played within that.

"I don't know if i've thanked them, but they kind of know," Beal said. "I mean, I really appreciate them, where they beat up on me and stuff, and made me what I am today."

What they've helped make him into is a 6-foot-3, 267 lb., defensive end that's earning all kinds of praise nationally.

Beal, a 2009 first team All-Big 12 defensive end, enters the year on three watch lists, including the Bednarik Award, awarded to the nation's top defensive player by the Maxwell Football Club, the Nagurski Award, presented to the nation's top defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America, and the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award.

While he realizes all those things, he shies away from them, instead focusing on something else.

"Thanks, I mean, I really haven't accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Beal said. "I want to be first team All-American and all the accolades along with that, you know, of course, but I want to step up as a leader."

He wants to emerge because a great one just left OU.

"You know, Gerald [McCoy], he's a great player, a great leader," Beal said. "And we're going to miss him as being part of this team, but that's part of me to fill that void and not only me, but Travis Lewis, Quinton Carter, Adrian Taylor. We all need to step up and try to fill the void that Gerald left."

That, obviously, would seem to put more pressure on him.

"Yeah, definitely I feel the pressure," Beal said. "But it's not me pressuring to make the big play. It's pressure on me, but I feel the pressure for me to lead the guys to make the big play, and the D-line's not consistently one person. It's four people, and, you know, I've got to be the leader. I feel the pressure to lead them to make a big play."

And the other players on the line see that and are responding to it.

"[He's] just a hard-nosed player," Alexander said. "You know, he wants to get the job done, and he's going to go 110 [percent], so, you know, you've just got to match his level, and then he's making everybody else around him want to do the same."

So, with his quickness, toughness and athleticism, as well as how grounded he is, there might not be a better guy to lead this group.

"Yeah, he's real tough," Alexander said. "You know, Jeremy really don't show no emotions, you know. So, you know, you never know when Jeremy's having a bad day because, I mean, he stays the same throughout the whole day. He never lets you know that he's down, you know, so in my opinion that's being tough right there."

And that's just what the Sooners needed if the defensive line and defense as a whole is going to be as good as it was last season.

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