Tennessee Vols redshirt freshman Dee Beckwith is likely one of the biggest running backs you’ll see in college football this season.
Beckwith, a former three-star recruit from Florence, AL, stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 227 lbs. He looks more like a tight end or an outside linebacker than a running back.
But it appears that Beckwith is sticking at running back, despite his size. Earlier this month, redshirt sophomore quarterback Brian Maurer compared Beckwith to Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, a similar-sized athlete.
When you think of Derrick Henry, you probably think of a powerful running back who led the league in rushing yards the last two seasons via his punishing running style.
And you might assume that’s how the Vols will utilize Beckwith in 2021.
But while it’s certainly possible (maybe likely) we’ll see Beckwith bowl over some defenders this season, that’s not necessarily how running backs coach Jerry Mack envisions using the Alabama native’s skills.
Mack spoke to reporters on Monday after Tennessee’s practice and he pointed out a couple of things about Beckwith’s game that he specifically likes.
“I think one of the benefits (of Beckwith’s size) is, from a protection standpoint, when he goes to protect with those long arms it’s like being a boxer with that wingspan to protect,” said Mack. “He does a really good job from a protection standpoint.”
“He does a really good job of being a big target when we talk about flexing those guys out and throwing balls to those guys,” added Mack.
It sounds like Mack sees Beckwith being used mainly in pass protection and as a receiver.
One reason Mack likely feels that way is because Beckwith’s size makes playing with a low pad level tough.
“Probably one of the disadvantages for guys who are that tall is pad level and being able to get their pad level low because they are a big target for linebackers and safeties running through the middle,” explained Mack.
Beckwith’s size will definitely present some unique challenges for opposing defenders. It appears that Tennessee is determined to exploit those challenges as much as possible.
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