Beckwith dominates in 2012 debut

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Kendell Beckwith spent his summer getting timed, observed and wooed at various college camps, including LSU's.

It was all as a linebacker/defensive end hybrid, his future positions when he gets to college as arguably Louisiana's top-rated 2013 prep recruit and the No. 15 player nationally in the ESPN150.

On Friday night, however, he was back at the position where, locally, he's best known. At quarterback, he passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more to lead Clinton, La./East Feliciana to a 37-8 win over Baton Rouge, La./Capitol at Memorial Stadium.

He finished 10-of-23 for 157 yards passing and rushed for 78 more on seven carries in the Tigers' season debut (their opener, against Northeast, was cancelled because of Hurricane Isaac).

He threw several deep fades against Capitol's man-to-man coverage that were off the mark, perhaps a sign that he was still working out the kinks with his receivers, But he finally connected on one later for a touchdown.

"Yeah, I was missing those at first, but it came together," he said. "It's going to take a little while to get in game mode, really. By skipping that game last week, that didn't help."

Of course, he also played defense which, in Louisiana Class 3A, isn't that unusual. In school with an enrollment between roughly 450 and 625 students, going both ways is the norm for a dominant athlete like Beckwith, who, at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, stood out that much more against a Class 2A opponent. He didn't have to play until the very end because the game was out of hand by halftime. But he said would have had no problem playing longer.

"I'm good," he said at the end of a hot night. "I could go another quarter right now."

In Louisiana, it's also not uncommon for programs in the smaller classes to put superior athletes like Beckwith at quarterback, thus guaranteeing the best player touches the ball on each offensive play. Across town from where Beckwith toiled, LSU cornerback commit Jeryl Brazil was under center to engineer a win for his Class 3A team, Loranger, over University High, which features the state's other top player, Tim Williams.

Perhaps unlike Brazil and many of the athlete/quarterbacks, Beckwith looked like a natural thrower. He has a big, pro-style body and it didn't seem far-fetched to think of him as a Division I quarterback.

On a couple of big hits he dished out on defense he showed why his talent on that side of the ball is where his future lies.

Both bone-crunching hits drew audible gasps from the crowd, they were so hard. They were two of several plays where he simply looked like a man amongst boys. On his 62-yard touchdown run on EFHS's second play, he pulled away from defensive backs 60 pounds lighter than him. Even when he was sacked in the third quarter, he dragged four Capitol players along until the play was blown dead because his helmet came off. Even with the gang tackling, the Capitol players never got Beckwith to the ground.

Those plays left no question why he's so highly regarded by major colleges. The question now is, which one gets his service? He is the seventh-highest rated uncommitted prospect left in the nation. He said he hadn't decided on when and where he'll take his official visits.

"I have a couple of things I have in mind, but I haven't set them up yet," Beckwith said.

As for Saturday, he said he'll probably "chill," but he said if he decides to go to a game, it would be to go back to Baton Rouge -- which is about 30 minutes away from East Feliciana's campus -- to see LSU play Washington.

LSU fans would love to see him in Tiger Stadium for future games after trading in EFHS blue for LSU purple and gold.