Texas has plenty of small-town football talent, and athlete Brayden Beard (Fredericksburg, TX/Fredericksburg) is among the latest crop of it. Beard plays defensive back and wide receiver, and SMU has shown interest in him and his top-level speed for a long time.
"I've heard back and forth from (SMU), I haven't heard from them recently in the past two weeks," Beard said. "They want me to come to their minicamp."
While SMU has occasional contact with Beard, two other schools stepped up their pursuit of him.
"The past few weeks, UTSA has been in a lot of contact," he said. "I went to their spring practice, I went to their spring game. Coach (Kevin) Brown, the offensive coordinator, he came down to my practice and watched me. I went up on a visit (May 6th). They're really interested in me and they've made a big push."
"I've been up to Tulsa three times, I went up to their spring game," Beard added.
Beard does not have any offers, but he expects to get a lot of them when he visits some schools and runs a 40-yard dash for them. He plans to run for SMU at the minicamp.
"If I can just run in the 4.4s for them, that's what they're looking for. They just want to see my speed in person. If I run 4.4 for them, we'll see what happens. I hope something happens that day."
Beard has been clocked in the 4.4s before, and he says running in that range should be simple.
"That's really what all the schools are looking for. They say I can play and I'm a good player but they just want to see me run in person because of my size. It would be different if I was 6-foot, but I'm 5'9" so I have to run for them.
Beard's elite speed is valuable on all three phases of football, but he is being recruited mainly to play offense.
"All the schools are recruiting me as an inside receiver and a returner. UTSA has kind of said some stuff about being a flex in their offense, kind of going back and forth being a hybrid between a running back and an inside receiver. There's no talk about defense."
Besides running a fast 40-yard dash, Beard has some high expectations for himself and his team next season, which is coming off a 10-2 season in 2013.
"As a team, next year as a whole, if we don't make regional finals it will be a disappointment. I have really high hopes for our team next year."
"I'd just like to be a better player, be able to put the techniques that I've learned from camp and training in my game next year. I'd like to be a lot quicker, faster, make bigger plays, more explosive. I want to improve my vocal leadership too."
Beard had 817 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 2013, along with 100 tackles and an interception.