Inside the Class of '06: Deon Beasley

The 14th in a daily series of 25 interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '06: Signee Deon Beasley.

Deon Beasley

Wide receiver/Defensive back
West Orange-Stark High School
5-10/168/4.54
NR (at CB): 2 SR: 5 Star Rating: *****

An Inside Texas conversation with West Orange-Stark offensive coordinator Randy Crouch on Deon Beasley:

IT: What are Deon’s strengths as a football player?

Crouch: Well, he was a wide receiver as a sophomore and junior here for us, and we knew he was special player by, not his athletic ability but just he had that look, that competitive spirit, so he played wide receiver for us for those two years. And then, for his senior year, we decided to play him at quarterback. My son had been the quarterback the two years he was a wide receiver and then we decided to play him at quarterback for a couple of reasons. Like I said, we knew he was special person. We thought he was a really strong leader, great competitive spirit, hated to lose, one of those type of people, and I think those are some super strengths for someone that age and maturity level. Then, when we put him at quarterback, we thought he was our best athlete and he could touch it every time and make something happen. He handled it very, very well. The thing also with Deon is unselfishness. We've asked him to do a lot of things here. He's played wide receiver, he's played quarterback, he's played defensive back. This past year we'd play him at wide receiver and put in another kid at quarterback just to get him in space to throw the ball to him where he could make a bigger play. I thought he was able to handle that and adjusted and did an amazing job for us this year.

IT: How much wide receiver did he play this year?

Crouch: Very little his senior year. He took almost every snap at quarterback except for a few games that we put him in on special plays and different situations, but primarily a quarterback his senior year.

IT: How often did he carry the ball?

Crouch: Well, we ran Texas' offense. Basically the zone read stuff, and he probably averaged between 18 and 25 carries a game, in that neighborhood. There were some games we hoped he didn't carry it as much, we didn't want him to, but he would. Again, he would make plays. I'd tell coach Foreman, Toby Foreman, our receivers coach, I'd say, Toby, tell him to make a play. [Laughs]

IT: On demand?

Crouch: Yeah. Go tell him to make a play, Toby. And it seemed like every time we needed one he would.

IT: One of the descriptions I've heard about him is he has a want-to to get the ball when the ball is in the air...

Crouch: That's right. I think in that Army game, the catch he made for the touchdown, he's like, if the ball is thrown in the vicinity, he's going to get it. He's that type of guy. I think that comes from the competitive nature and the want-to to get it. Just because it might not be right at him, or three yards this way, or five yards that way, or a little high, he's going to make whatever effort or find a way to get the ball. And he can do that.

IT: Did he play defensive back at certain down-and-distance?

Crouch: Oh yes, he played defensive back in a lot of situations, third and fourth downs, or when we had teams that were spread team that threw it a lot to get an added dimension on that.

IT: How frequently was he in the secondary?

Crouch: He was back there more than you think. A lot of people think he played quarterback all of the time, but in certain games, he'd play a lot of defensive back in situations because we could put him on their best receiver or the routes that they liked to run and we felt pretty comfortable. Ya know, if they're going to beat somebody, they're going to have to beat one of the better players in the state. That's always nice to have as a coach.

IT: Did he primarily come in at cornerback?

Crouch: He played safety, he played corner, he played different places depending week-to-week on where they needed him. One thing we do here, we coach both sides. Just because you play offense doesn't mean you don't have a defensive position because he was very valuable to us in a lot of roles. I know sometimes as a guy that works on offense, you say, Why is he in there (on defense)? [Laughs] Can we get him out. But he was instrumental in a lot of things.

IT: How's his footwork?

Crouch: He has some really good feet. Some of the best I've seen. He's very quick and has got great hips, flexibility. He's one of those guys -- I don't know how fast he is. A lot of people have asked, How fast is he? I don't know. He's always ahead of somebody. He's that type of guy.

IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about Deon?

Crouch: Well, I think his athletic ability and his quickness is exceptional. He's hard to touch in a phone booth, so to speak. He's got great quickness, he has good vision. As coaches say, he runs where they ain't. He runs to daylight. He finds an open spot. So those are some of his stronger attributes... He went to a lot of camps his sophomore year, his junior year, so he was able to get a lot of exposure and they could see the qualities in him. He's just an athlete that can play a lot of places. I'm not so sure he couldn't be a defensive back, or a safety, or a corner. He's just the type, wherever The University of Texas needs him, I think that'll he do the best he can to help them win another national championship.

IT: He's obviously been in an environment where he's played against very good athletes -- the U.S. Army All-American Game, camps and combines -- where he's stood out as well. Do you see that as indicative of his ability against comparable talent?

Crouch: Right. I think he's the type that when the competition is the stiffest, he's at his best. I think he's one of those guys. It's kinda like a relief pitcher, Hey, I want the ball in this situation. I want to be in there in the tough situations and I think that's what he'll do. I know there's a learning curve and experience and everything but he will do whatever it takes to get himself to be able to compete at that level.

IT: In recruiting, a lot of the focus on him, at least early on, seemed to be him as a cornerback, projecting him because of his speed and his body size and all that as a cornerback. Was there a time when schools started saying, Wow, this guy has got that offensive ability?

Crouch: I think as we got into the season and they started to see the offensive numbers that he was putting up, and how effective he was in open field running, and there were a couple of situations where they flashed back to when he was a junior and looked at tape when he caught the ball and what he did in the open field. I think that could have changed some people's minds. I know some other schools through the process, they were recruiting him strictly as an offensive player, but I think that was something that they looked at but, but I think that's what happened when they started seeing, we averaged offensively almost 50 points a game, and he got going, and he made so many big plays, and I think they just started saying, Hey, there might be something. He can play a lot of places.

IT: Going forward, do you see him playing on the offensive side of the ball?

Crouch: I think he can. I don't know 100-percent what plans Texas has for him, offensively or defensively. From what I understand, they're going to see what he wants to do his freshman year and evaluate where he can help the team. He's a real team oriented guy and I don't think he'll have any problem -- if they need him to be a receiver for them and help them, he can do that. Punt returner, kick returner. That's something that I didn't mention earlier, he can beat you a lot of different ways. I know he's going to a caliber of program, a caliber of team, a caliber of ball, he'll be playing against people of his own ability, but I think he can make a huge impact wherever they put.

IT: We had another coach describe Beasley as the ideal inside receiver...

Crouch: He is. He can find the open creases, he can get deep on you vertically. Football today, it was strictly in the pro ranks that they tried to get matchups personnel-wise, and it trickled down to college and now it's trickled down to high school. Now, you're looking for those matchups and you're going to have to put somebody on him that can cover somebody. It's not just to take up space, because he can run by 'em. He has a lot of tools.

IT: Was Deon a leader for you guys, and if so, how did he lead?

Crouch: Very much so. They're kinda like your kids because you're around them so much. They come in here in the ninth grade, and you see them every day during the week, and you take 'em to different functions and you watch 'em mature and you see 'em grow. I think the thing I will most appreciate from him, I think his mother did an excellent job raising him, his family, his grandparents from what I understand. Ya know, a lot of people can get caught up in this but he never changed. He's the same Kenneth Deon Beasley that I knew. He got more mature and stronger and everything like that, and got better, but the players didn't alienate themselves from him. They drew to him and I think that's something special. They respected him not only as a player but they knew what he stood for and I think that that's real important for young people, for anybody. From a coaching standpoint, you're always looking for people like that. I'll always remember him as that type of person. He always drew people to him. He has such a nice spirit and pleasant personality, so that was special.

IT: We hear so much, from the kids that are already in the program, but also the ones about to join the program, about the family atmosphere down in Austin. Given what you just said, how do you see Deon fitting into that?

Crouch: Oh, I think that, when I've gone to visit The University of Texas and their facilities and to watch them practice, you summed it up. It is a family atmosphere, it is a family environment and coach Brown and his support people and his staff do such a good job of making you feel at home. But also on the other hand, they know that production is real important too, and they balance that really well, and I think they do such a good job, they know who can handle that and when they can handle that and everything like that. I'm just real excited he's going to be in that. It'll help him mature even more.

IT: What's he working on right now to get prepared to arrive in Austin in June ready to play?

Crouch: He's been working very hard in the weight room trying to improve his strength. He's a track man, been running track. The thing about him was, it would have been real easy for him to sit back and say, I'm a pretty good player. But I've never seen that. He works constantly. His work ethic is extremely good. Sometimes at this maturity level you don't see that till they get older, but I think he knows the importance of working. And that's what I see. He's always trying to get an edge. He stays close in the track program, weight lifting, and he likes competition. He tries to stay sharp, so that's what he's going to continue to work on when he gets there.

IT: With all those positives, from a coaches perspective what is it that you see he needs to improve upon to succeed at the next level?

Crouch: He's getting ready to get involved with people that can play just like he can. The competition. And if he's a receiver, and they press you, being able to get off the coverage and have strength enough to be able to learn that. Because he didn't play any wide receiver this year, so if he's in that mold, that'll be a little learning curve. It's kinda like the ol' coaches saying, You learn from experience. I can tell you what's getting ready to happen to you, but until that guy does it to you, you don't really understand what I'm talking about. That's what he'll have to do. I think strength will probably be a big thing because the defensive backs are so strong and physical in that league. Ya know, in high school football you see it in the interior. At college football, you're going to see that with all 11 of them who can play physical.

IT: What did Deon mean to your football program?

Crouch: From an athletic standpoint, strictly from playing football, he was very important naturally. He made everything tick. He put a dimension in our program that we hadn't had here in the fact that, what are you going to do with him? He could beat you throwing, he could beat you running, he could beat you returning punts and kicks, but I think the thing I'll always take that he meant to this program was that he never changed. West Orange football was real important to him. The team was real important to him. It just wasn't, Hey, how can I make my stats look good, or How can I do this. He had a lot of attention put on him, but I think he handled it extremely well. He meant a lot to this program. The leadership and the way that he fought through -- I'm sure there were a lot of days he was kinda nicked up and bumped. I'd hold my breath sometimes, we'd get in those games and we hoped we didn't have to run him very much but we'd end up running him 25 times, and you're always hoping he gets up from that tackle because you knew how important he was to what you wanted to do. He never complained to me. He was always one of the first ones out there on the field. As years go by, and I've been in this thing about 30 years, you just don't come across many like that. You can coach a long time and never coach one like that.

Also see: ScoutTV: All-American Highlights

More exclusive Deon Beasley photos

Exclusive Deon Beasley combine video

UT's Signing Day bio: Three-year starter who played in the 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl … versatile athlete who played wide receiver, cornerback and quarterback … earned honorable mention 3A all-state by The Associated Press as a senior … tabbed 3A Region III MVP … named district 24-3A MVP … tabbed first-team all-Greater Houston … completed 116-of-204 passes (56.9%) for 1, 928 yards and rushed 244 times for 1,468 yards (6.0 ypc) and 23 TDs … helped West Orange Stark to a 12-1 record and a state-semifinals berth in 2005 … played quarterback in his team's state quarterfinal victory over Giddings … named to Dave Campbell's Super Team first team on defense in the preseason … made 33 catches for 801 yards and 17 TDs as a junior … ran back two punts and one kickoff for TDs that year… averaged 32 yards per kickoff return … helped West Orange Stark to a 7-3 record and a playoff berth in 2004 … named district newcomer of the year as a sophomore … also competed in track and field and power lifting … an honor roll student in high school … was active in high school FCA program … enjoys working out and shopping … cousin, Marcus Scott, played at Oklahoma … uncle, Anthony Thomas, played linebacker at Stephen F. Austin … full name is Kenneth Deon Beasley … born Sept. 19, 1987 in Orange, Texas … lived in Jackson, Miss. for a year.

"I decided to commit to Texas because I just feel attached to all of the coaches there. They also got some great facilities and I really like their academics. My parents and grandparents also feel comfortable with it."

NEXT UP: ANTWAN COBB

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