He smiled at the comparison but immediately dismissed it.
“I don’t know about Odell Beckham,” Shaun Beyer said.
The Iowa tight end was asked to describe the Beckham-esque leaping one-handed catch he made this past Saturday in his team’s 26-20 win over Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium. It was a wow moment, for sure.
On the second play of the game, Hawkeye quarterback Spencer Petras overthrew a seam pass to Beyer 20 yards down field. But the Cedar Rapids Kennedy graduate used his 6-foot-5 frame to stretch for and snag the throw with his right hand, pulling it in and maintaining possession as he fell to the ground on his back and was rolled into by a defender.
Fired up, Beyer pumped his arm in celebration and clapped to himself as he walked off the field. Nebraska Coach Scott Frost didn’t complain about that clap, by the way.
“Spencer made a good (read), saw the coverage and kept it right up the seam where only I could get it,” Beyer said. “Ended up making a good play on it.”
A great play, one that showed you the senior’s ability. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride at Iowa for Beyer, who was recruited as an “athlete” and eventually settled at the tight end position.
He played a little tight end, a little wide receiver, some linebacker and safety at Kennedy. He also carried the ball out of the backfield for the Cougars, threw some passes and even punted.
Originally a North Dakota State commit, Iowa got in on Beyer late and persuaded him to come. It wasn’t a hard decision for a kid who grew up watching the Hawkeyes.
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“I liked (Ricky) Stanzi,” he said. “Growing up, I tried to be a quarterback when I was younger and stuff like that. I liked Shonn Greene, too. As a running back, I wanted to be a running back when I was younger, too. So those two guys, for sure.”
He redshirted in 2016 and played special teams his freshman and sophomore years. Beyer played in all 13 games last season, made eight starts but had just seven receptions, gradually losing playing time to true freshman Sam LaPorta.
He has nine catches in Iowa’s six games this season, playing with LaPorta in a lot of two tight-end sets.
“Happy for Shaun,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That was a great effort the other day, so really great to see that. That should give him some confidence.”
“That’s what I came here to do, to play at a high level,” Beyer said. “So definitely I think it’s been a blast this year, and I look to continue on the path that I’m on.”
That path has him as one of the nation’s top tight ends, according to one source. Pro Football Focus this week graded Beyer as its fourth-rated tight end, behind Kyle Pitts of Florida, Josh Whyle of Cincinnati and Cade Otton of Washington.
Highest-graded TEs in College Football
1. Kyle Pitts, Florida - 96.0
2. Josh Whyle, Cincinnati - 90.1
3. Cade Otton, Washington - 89.0
4. Shaun Beyer, Iowa - 88.5
5. Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin - 85.5
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— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 1, 2020
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PFF says it uses “premium data and analytics” to grade the 85 FBS teams and their players. It has graded out Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum as the nation’s top center.
That Beyer’s ranking is so high is a surprise, considering, again, he shares snaps with LaPorta. It takes into consideration ability in the passing game as well as blocking.
“Yeah, saw that on Twitter this morning as I was walking into the building,” he said. “But I think it’s something that’s not a big deal to me. Just continuing to get better is what I’m focused on. It’s kind of nice to get a little recognition, but it’s just continuing to improve and getting better every day is what I’m focused on.
“Whether that’s on the field or watching film and trying to get down the little things that are going to make me improve as a player.”
Iowa is Tight End U. Beyer has been around NFL starters like George Kittle, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson in his time at the school, and it’d be impossible not to soak in at least some of what makes guys like those so successful.
“Definitely having those guys ahead of me helped a lot,” Beyer said. “Just coming in as an athlete, kind of not knowing what they were going to do with me, and just kind of watching George, what really impressed me was his blocking skills. Just handling guys in the blocking game, the blocking drills and everything like that. That’s what impressed me, and that’s where I really kind of keyed in on him.
“Then sitting behind T.J. and Noah, those guys got after it in both aspects of the game, both passing and blocking. Just kind of watching film on all those guys and sitting the shadows you could say ... learning from them really helped me out a lot. I think that helped out a lot in the long run.”
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