It's pretty impressive that numerous recruiting sites list Austin Beck as one of the top offensive line recruits in Oklahoma and the region. Mainly because that's a position he's hardly ever played.
"I played it a little last year, but I've always been a defensive lineman," said the Nowata standout. "That's what I'm known for, anyway."
No doubt about that. The 6-8, 295-pounder has been a terror on opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers for the past two years. Last season, he amassed 90 tackles — an incredible number for a defensive lineman — and had six sacks. And that came despite being double-teamed every down and while being counted on to occupy linemen to keep them off Nowata standout linebacker Tim Farris.
"(Farris) was second in the state in tackles in 2A and that makes me happy," Beck said. "I'm keeping guys off him and he's making tackles. He's a beast."
That description clearly goes for Beck as well. Because for all he's achieved already on the defensive line, his athleticism is such that colleges recruited him at both that position and the offensive line.
"I really don't care where I play," Beck said. "My goal is to start. Wherever they think I can play. These guys know what they're doing. And there are positives about both. Defense, you get to go out there and smash people. And offense is more of a thinking game."
Everyone will get a look at what the mammoth Beck can do on the OL this fall because for the first time in his career, he's going to start both ways.
Arkansas, which got a verbal commitment from Beck last April, likes his potential at both spots.
"They said to be ready for anything," Beck said. "They said the first day of practice I'll go play defense, but the second day I may go play offense. It's not dead set yet."
Beck, who also heavily considered Illinois and Missouri, is taking summer school and may elect to graduate in December in order to go through spring practice at Arkansas.
Despite his ability to play the game, football isn't all-consuming for Beck. He's the oldest of six children (the youngest is three months old) and spending time with his little brothers and sister is a priority.
"We got them all Arkansas jerseys when I committed," he said. "And they wear them pretty much every day."
He also works on the family farm and is part of the Vo-Ag program at Nowata (Beck shows steers and a pig, is a poultry judge and does cattle grading). What's more, he's very involved with Special Olympics, working the annual meet in Stillwater, working at car washes and volunteering his time to the cause.
Beck's inspiration to get involved is a classmate he's known since the two were children.
"Trenton Weirather, he's like the biggest Nowata Ironmen fan ever," said Beck. "He's great."
Being able to juggle so many things on his agenda, it's little wonder college coaches figure he can adapt to changes.
"Everyone's dream is to play Division I football," he said. "I'm going to get to live it, so I'll make it work whatever I need to do and wherever I need to play."
Weight: 295 pounds
Position: Defensive line
Committed: Arkansas, April 24, 2010
Did you know?: Beck lived in Stillwater until the third grade and, naturally, Oklahoma State was his team. However, the Cowboys didn't show the same interest of all the other schools recruiting Beck.
"I guess they didn't like me," Beck joked. "It all worked out because I love everything about Arkansas, but, yeah, I was the biggest OSU fan."