Abdul Beecham was sitting in psychology class last Monday when his phone lit up with a text. It was from K-State offensive line coach Charlie Dickey telling Beecham he’d be moving from backup tackle to starting guard.
“I was in class and I’m just sitting there sweating,” Beecham said Tuesday. “I’m like man, I’m playing a position I’ve never played before.”
When he says he’s never played guard before, he means it. He only played tackle his one semester at Blinn College, where he was named to the Honorable Mention All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference offensive lineman as a freshman in 2015 after not allowing a sack the entire season.
He only played tackle his four years at Judson High School in Converse, Texas, where he earned all-district and all-state honors as a junior and senior.
With just two hours before team meetings, only one thing crossed his mind:
“I just have to get in the film room and just study,” he said. “Just study as much as I can.”
So that’s what he did. Knowing nothing of the position and having barely five days to prepare, he went to work, learning most of what he could that day.
“I had a long film session with Coach Drew Liddle, and I got in Tuesday and everything just clicked,” Beecham said. “It was amazing.”
Amazing, sure. But it didn’t happen by accident. He’d put in the necessary work. Head Coach Bill Snyder stresses that his backups prepare like starters each week, and Beecham took that to heart. Though the opportunity came as a surprise, it wasn’t like he hadn’t anticipated the possibility.
“I feel like life just BOOM, just smacked me right in the face, but I’m ready for it,” Beecham said. “I’m always prepared. Even as a two, going back the previous weeks, I prepared like I was a one. You never know when your name is gonna be called. So you just have to be ready regardless.”
Thanks to preparation, the transition from tackle to guard has been somewhat seamless. Beecham said run blocking is essentially the same at both positions, but pass-blocking has been an adjustment.
“At tackle, your pass sets are a little more vertical — more width. Guys have speed out there on the edge,” he said. “Inside, you gotta be a little more flat and kinda get on a guy before he gets going because those are big, strong guys ... but I adapted to it pretty quickly.”
Now he said he prefers his new position over the one he’s been playing for years.
“Guard comes more naturally to me,” he said, which makes sense, considering his six-foot-three, 304-pound frame. “I feel like I was meant to put my hand down in the dirt.”
And though he feels his performance against Texas Tech graded out well — aside from one holding penalty — and he knows he’ll be starting this week against Oklahoma, he’s still not taking anything for granted.
“It’s a competition every week in practice. Nobody’s position is safe,” he said. “I had a good week of practice before (moving to starter), I had a good week of practice that week and I’m hoping to have a good week of practice this week.”
That’s how he’ll have to do it — day to day, week to week. He said he’s eliminating distractions, trying to stay off social media and focusing on nothing but class and the game ahead, no matter what kind of texts he receives.
“Only thing that’s on my mind other than this game is the classroom,” he said. “That’s the way it’s gonna have to be for the rest of the season.”