Beckum's position? A cornucopia of choices

Oak Creek coach weighs in on Travis Beckum's myriad potential collegiate positions

Though primarily a linebacker, Travis Beckum played an assortment of positions at Oak Creek (Wis.) High School. So where will he play in college after performing well as a linebacker, defensive end, cornerback, tight end and receiver for the Knights?

Beckum's elite athleticism led to such versatility. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound prospect runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and can bench press more than 300 pounds. He has the athleticism to lock on receivers in coverage and the strength and agility to adeptly rush the passer. And do not pigeon-hole him for defense either. Beckum was a productive offensive weapon at Oak Creek and would like to eventually have the opportunity to play both ways in college.

The feeling emanating from San Antonio, where Beckum is practicing with the West All-Stars in preparation for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, is that the University of Wisconsin commit will end up at defensive end.

Oak Creek coach Joe Koch sees that as a very real possibility for the 6-foot-5, 220-pound prospect.

Said Koch: "He's got his long arms. He's got a major burst. He's a natural pass rusher. He's got incredible hip flexibility. He very well could [play defensive end]. Everybody tries to upgrade their speed. Right now he's a fast linebacker but he'd be a super-fast [defensive] end. He physically wouldn't be ready for that now. But with a couple years of lifting he could."

Beckum is very strong for his build but would be even stronger if not for his dedication to the Oak Creek basketball team.

"He's limited lifting because he did all that basketball," Koch said. "So he's never really had that time to dedicate to lifting. With just a limited amount he could get humongous."

Koch, however, said that Beckum's versatility defies easy labels, making predicting his future position all the more complicated.

"I wouldn't definitely pencil him in, say he's for sure a [defensive] end yet just because of the flexibility he gives you," Koch said. "I know [the Badgers] are going to give him some looks on offense next year. He could easily grow into a big-time tight end too.

"He could play receiver now. That's what he is. Right now he's a guy who's an extra guy at wideout. He can play that outside backer/strong safety type thing. With weightlifting he could grow into that tight end/D end-type body. Easily."

Beckum could also stick to linebacker. But Koch would not be surprised to see Beckum make an instant impact in the UW defensive backfield.

"Travis is the kind of guy that if you wanted to you could easily make him a safety next year," Koch said. "He could play for the Badgers at safety next year. Without a doubt. As long as he can mentally pick up all the schemes and calls and checks and all that. If he can grasp that stuff, physically he can run with the receivers. He was our best cover guy. He's unbelievable. He's a stud."

One of the reasons the Badgers secured Beckum's verbal commitment was that they did not recruit him only for a particular position.

"Travis' favorite team originally was Florida State," Koch said. "Florida State told him straight out that he was going to be a [defensive] end. But they told him he could play as a freshman at [defensive] end because of their system. That nixed them right off the board because he didn't like the idea of being penciled in as this and this. That was the end of that.

"Ohio State had him at inside ‘backer and only playing one side of the ball. That kind of nixed that."

Wisconsin and Beckum's other finalist, Oklahoma, gave Beckum more options.

"Oklahoma he liked a lot. They kind of left the door open," Koch said. "Then it really came down to between Oklahoma and Wisconsin. And [Wisconsin co-linebackers coach] Brian Murphy did a really great job recruiting him. Not that Oklahoma didn't but Brian Murphy basically showed him a lot of love and just a ton of interest that he was the guy. Not just a really top player they wanted, he was the guy they wanted.

"But I think the thing that was the clincher was, you know, everything's wide open. You'll get some looks on offense next year and defense. Travis is so competitive and confident. He feels he can play any position on the field. He wants to play all the time. They will not have a problem asking him to do kickoff coverage, kick return, punt block, punt. He'll want to do everything. He's not one of these guys where, ‘I don't want to do it because I might get hurt.' No way. He's like ‘put me on the field.' He's like a little kid. He wants to play all the time.

"The Badgers kind of left that door open and that was a smart move on their part."

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