No glitz for Kendell Beckwith
Nation's No. 1 athlete keeps his UA presentation understated
JACKSON, La. -- It's quite a startling contrast: The pizzazz of the Under Armour All-America Game, set against the backdrop of a sleepy Louisiana town.
That was the scene Thursday morning when the American Family Insurance Selection Tour rolled through Jackson (La.) East Feliciana High School to present Kendell Beckwith with his game jersey for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.
"This was a big goal of mine, and I'm honored -- very honored," Beckwith said. "About two years ago I was watching the game, and I just knew it was something I wanted to be a part of."
The presentation for Beckwith, who's rated the nation's No. 1 athlete and No. 15 overall prospect in the ESPN 150, was quite understated for a player of his stature. And that was by his choosing -- he chose to commemorate the occasion with his family rather than being mobbed by a crowd of classmates.
"He is so humble," said Beckwith's mother, Urhonda. "He has always worked hard, always been a good student. He never gave us any problems as far as being a young man. We're just really proud of him."
Perhaps that explains the surprisingly low-key nature of Beckwith's recruitment to this point. The senior holds offers from more than a dozen schools, and powerhouse programs LSU and Alabama are hot on his trail as the two schools to beat. He fields phone calls from coaches and reporters alike on a daily basis, and he hears questions about his eventual decision endlessly.
But in the unassuming setting of Jackson, with this support structure around him, Beckwith is unfazed. Faced with the pressure of such a large decision -- on top of plenty of home-state pressure to boot -- he laughed off the thought of recruitment fatigue.
"It doesn't bother me too much -- I'm dealing with it," he said. "You just have to take it all in and enjoy it. I just have to be patient and make the best decision for myself."
It helps that Beckwith, who stars at quarterback, linebacker and defensive end for East Feliciana, has seen this before. His older brother Wendell underwent his own recruitment before signing with Tulane, and his cousin Darry was an eventual LSU signee.
"He was well-equipped for it -- he and his parents -- and he's handling it well," said East Feliciana coach Cedric Anderson. "From talking to coaches and a lot of other people, they commend him on how he's handling it and taking his time to make a decision."
That attitude bodes well for what is sure to be a busy run up to the game itself, which will be played in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 4 at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN. Beckwith plans to make all five of his official visits -- to the front-running Crimson Tide and Tigers, as well as trips to Florida State, Tennessee and Clemson -- but has yet to take any.
"It's still developing, but LSU wants to do theirs after the season, and Alabama wants to do theirs in November sometime, when they play Texas A&M," said Beckwith. "Florida State wants to do theirs Thanksgiving weekend."
If all goes according to plan, Beckwith will have seen enough to come to a decision by the time he arrives to represent Louisiana at the 2013 edition of the Under Armour All-America Game. Having achieved his goal of reaching the game, Beckwith allowed that he might even wait to make the big decision on the sidelines.
"That's something I've always wanted to do, too, so why not?" he said.
The spotlight can only get brighter from here, as Beckwith's time at East Feliciana will soon give way to bigger towns and more attention. But as the hype ratchets up, Beckwith said he'll do things on his terms -- the only way he ever has.
"He is on his own timeline," said his mother. "He does not let it hinder him or weigh him down in any form or fashion. He's going to take his time, enjoy his senior season and then he'll decide."
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