TAMPA — Andrew Beck’s rise to football stardom was not easy.
It was long, challenging and required a bit of soul searching.
But if it wasn’t for the journey, the Plant High senior linebacker wouldn’t be the top prospect, and student, he is today.
The son of a high-ranking Army officer, Beck has lived in nine cities in 11 states and lived in Germany twice. After moving to Tampa in 2011 following his freshman year of high school in Colorado, Beck enrolled at Plant.
Making new friends and trying out for another new team had become routine for Beck. At Plant, however, he quickly found a sense of belonging.
“On the first day of school, all the football guys said hi and helped me out and showed me where to go to class,” Beck said.
Plant would become the longest he’d stayed in one place since his days in elementary school.
“He has an ability to adapt and make friends easy,” Plant coach Robert Weiner said. “We took to him right away.”
His academics, unfortunately, were not in order. Beck held a 1.6 grade-point average, below the 2.0 minimum requirement to play high school sports in Florida.
“I was a freshman that made varsity, and that went to my head,” Beck recalled of his time in Colorado. “I thought I was man of the house, my dad was deployed and my priorities weren’t straight.”
Weiner offered Beck a spot on the scout team that year. Beck watched as the Panthers claimed the Class 8A state title, the fourth in program history. It would be a year until he would have the opportunity to show his abilities.
With the help of a tutor, Beck became eligible the following season. As a junior, he burst onto the football scene as Plant’s leading tackler. A few months after the school year, Beck announced his verbal commitment to the University of Texas.
Several schools, including Florida, recruited Beck as a tight end. This season, he has caught eight passes for 98 yards with a touchdown.
“He can play anywhere,” Weiner said. “Some schools thought he was a better tight end. He has unbelievable hands. We’ve handed him the ball. He runs a 4.5. He’s faster than most defensive backs. He’s also one of our best punters and kickers. I think he also played quarterback in Colorado. He’s an all-around talented guy.”
The Becks once lived 45 minutes outside of Austin, Texas, and were fans of the Longhorns’ football program. Though his father asked him to keep an open mind about recruiting if Texas were to come calling, Andrew followed his heart.
“Once a Longhorn, always a Longhorn,” Beck said.
Beck has a team-high 72 tackles entering tonight’s district game at Alonso, along with five sacks and two fumble recoveries. He’s rated as one of the top linebackers in the country, and perhaps more important to Beck, he has improved his GPA to a 3.2 and scored 1240 on his most recent SAT.
“He has great moral character and the personality to go along with it,” Weiner said. “It’s really a special thing to have.”