Andrew Beck lined up at fullback late in the fourth quarter against then No. 8 Baylor. Just about everybody at Darrell K Royal—Texas Memorial Stadium probably expected the junior tight end to fire forward to block for junior running back D’Onta Foreman, who lined up directly behind him.
Foreman ran for 250 yards against the Bears that day, and he went over 1,000 rushing yards on the season in the process. Texas faced a crucial third and short, trailing by eight with mere minutes remaining. The play had to go to Foreman. But it didn’t.
Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele faked a handoff to Foreman and immediately looked out to his right. One second later he let the ball fly. Beck wasn’t blocking. He sprinted toward the sideline, caught the ball in stride, turned upfield and tumbled into the endzone.
“Every time we run it in practice, my eyes get big,” Beck said of the play. “I’m just excited I got called in the game. That’s always a plus. It still hasn’t set in yet.”
The touchdown marked Beck’s second score of the season. The first came on a 39-yard seam route against Oklahoma State. Beck hasn’t spent any other time in the spotlight this year — he only has three receptions all season.
But that doesn’t diminish the significance of his time on the field. Only 10 teams in the country run the ball more times per game than Texas. Every time Beck locks up an opposing defender is just as important as his three receptions.
“I think they feel blessed to be on the field, as anyone should,” sophomore offensive lineman Connor Williams said of the tight ends. “So whatever it takes to win as a team and whatever their role is, they embrace it.”
Beck blocks for one of the best running backs in the nation in junior D’Onta Foreman, making his job as a tight end all the more essential. Foreman runs for 157.86 yards per game, slotting him No. 2 in the nation in that category.
“It’s nice to kind of have the reassurance that he’s going to… make a guy miss or run somebody over,” Beck said. “It’s always a pat on the back if you’re an offensive lineman or a tight end blocking for him and [he] runs for that many yards.”
Beck’s job isn’t only limited to clearing a path for his running back. The junior from Tampa, Florida, runs routes for Buechele when put in a position to do so, but he also has to make sure the true freshman quarterback stays protected in the pocket.
Buechele is well on his way to throwing for 3,000 yards this season, and he’d be the first Texas quarterback to do so since Colt McCoy reached the mark in three straight seasons from 2007-2009. Buechele said he’s appreciative of what Beck provides on the field.
“You know, our tight ends, they’re great guys, and they’re great players,” Buechele said. “[The Baylor game] showed that we can use them and how good of athletes they are and just what we can do with them.”
Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert said Beck showed athleticism with his catches against Baylor, and he also complimented his physicality.
“We’ve just got different ways and packages that we can use guys in,” Gilbert said of Beck and the other tight ends. “So we’re fortunate that [Beck and senior tight end Caleb Bluiett] are on our football team and that we’ve got those two guys on the offensive side of the ball.”
Though Beck hasn’t figured into the offense much in terms of catches and touches, he’s thankful for the chances he gets and stays ready for future opportunities as Texas makes the push for bowl eligibility.
“Fortunately I’ve been able to perform somewhat [well] when my number has been called and I’ve gotten to touch the ball,” Beck said. “I’ve got all the faith in the world in everybody on the offensive staff and the coaching rooms that they’re going to come up with a great game plan.”