Bursting onto the scene as a true freshman, Tyraiq Beals showed a lot of promise, speed and pass catching ability, hauling in 24-receptions, including two touchdowns in a year that saw the program return to postseason action after a four-year absence. His sophomore year, however, was not as impressive. The East Orange, NJ native made just 7 grabs for an offense that sputtered down the stretch. His production was directly correlated to the entire offenses performance and a large part had to do with a lack of opportunities.
Change came after his sophomore season and with it came a new offensive approach. It led to more opportunities in the passing game and Beals answered the call, pulling in a career-high 30 catches as a junior. In the midst of what is now the final spring of his college career, Beals is one of the more experienced members of a group that possesses the most depth of any position on the roster.
“We have a lot of experience,” Beals said of the receiving corps last week. “Some of the young guys have experience, but they’re still learning. I remember when I first got here, I had to get used to getting better and better every year. That’s kind of the process they are going through right now.”
Last season was his first without a touchdown, but he worked his way back from playing behind redshirt freshman Keyion Dixon as the receiver opposite fellow senior Hergy Mayala. By year end, he was back at the top of the depth chart in a starting role. That’s where he’s found himself throughout the spring, as well. Taking to heart the messaging head coach Randy Edsall is trying to instill has contributed to him cementing his place with the offense at the moment.
“My main focus right now is getting better at all the small things and finishing like Coach says,” he said.
It doesn’t hurt that WR Coach Aaron Smith is also leading the group, driving home accountability and work ethic.
“He brings a lot of discipline, not like hard core, but he brings discipline,” Beals said of Smith. “We need to focus on every little detail, as far as that extra yard, finishing the play and focusing on catching the ball. It’s helped us out on the field.”
With a new offense, a new coordinator and a new scheme, the year-over-year transition could have taken some getting used to. However, under OC John Dunn, it’s not as drastic as one would think.
“[The offense] is pretty similar,” Beals said. “It’s just a little bit slowed down, so we have time to think about what we’re about to do. The offense is coming along great, everybody has been getting in their books, getting down on the plays and making sure they know what they’re doing before they come out here.”
The pace of practice is noticeable as well. After each play ends and the whistle blows, players are implored to run back to the line of scrimmage or back to the sidelines if there’s a change in personnel. It’s something the team expected and prepared for during offseason workouts and it’s only going to help the group come out on the winning side of late fourth quarter battles come the start of the season.
“By now, we’re used to it,” he said. “We’ve been prepared for it with conditioning so it’s just normal to be always moving, non-stop running.”
Beals, like the coaching staff, has liked what he’s seen from quarterback David Pindell, who seems to be comfortably seated in the QB1 chair as the spring has continued. He’s looking the part and has continued to build off of his final appearance on the road at Cincinnati a season ago.
“I sense he’s a lot more confident,” Beals confirmed. “At the position, he’s a lot more settled in, so now he gets the offense more. Last year when he first got here I feel like he was just thrown into it. It was just a new system, but now he’s more settled into the program and he’s doing his thing.”
With confidence and stability at quarterback and a deep, experienced receiving corps, the passing game should be a strength of the Huskies offense in the first season with John Dunn calling the plays. That would be music to Beals’ ears, who will be looking to build off his career year.
MATT SCHONVISKY / SITE CREATOR