I wanted to play DI football because I knew I was talented enough. I didn't want to sell myself short."Eagles punter Anthony Beck
RINCON — In football, the importance of specialists has risen over the years. That includes punters.
Anthony Beck thrives in the opportunities he is afforded to kick. The former South Effingham quarterback is entering his junior season at Georgia Southern.
Beck had a stellar sophomore campaign. He etched his name in the Eagles’ record book after hemming up opponents inside their 20-yard line 24 times.
Rewriting history isn’t Beck’s goal, however. He’s simply looking for a way to give the Eagles’ defense an advantage.
“I try not to think about it too much,” he said. “I’m only as good as my next kick. I’m just trying to flip the field and help the defense out.”
As the 2020 season approaches, the sentiment around Beck return to the gridiron is much different.
“I am a lot more excited than I’d usually be because of everything that’s going on,” he said. “It’s building up and progressing, and we are finally getting told we’ll be able to start practicing in July maybe. I love football so I am always going to be excited.
“But this year is going to be a little different because of everything that’s going on (with the COVID-19 pandemic).”
Beck is eager to reunite with the squad.
“I’m grateful for my teammates — my brothers,” he said. “We go through everything together. Everyday we are together, and all of a sudden, we can’t see each other — we have to quarantine.
“It definitely made me look at the opportunity that I have to play college football and it does make me a lot more grateful to do what I love.”
Beck was recruited by Florida Tech to play quarterback but he declined that offer.
“I wanted to play DI football because I knew I was talented enough,” he said. “I didn’t want to sell myself short. That was always in the back of my head.
“At the end of the day, it came down to, ‘What do I feel comfortable doing?’ I did feel comfortable playing quarterback but I enjoyed punting because it gives me a challenge that playing quarterback doesn’t. You have to be perfect every single time you punt or there’s going to be something off so I just enjoy the challenge punting gives me.”
In his Georgia Southern debut last fall, Beck took the field against eventual national champion LSU inside a stadium that has been called by some as the hardest place to play in all of college football. And the LSU defense kept Beck busy.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, Beck booted his ninth punt — a 74-yarder that turned out to be the second longest in school history. Beck said that moment was one of his most memorable as an Eagle thus far.
“My first game being at LSU — that was pretty cool,” Beck said. “I like the fake field goal at Arkansas State. That was pretty fun and getting mentioned by (TV commentator) Randy Moss — that was pretty cool. (But) my favorite moment was winning and going into the locker room and just being with my boys after we win.”
Beck was used to making a name for himself before he signed with the Eagles, who finished 7-6 last year. He holds all the punting records at South Effingham — a feat that made a lasting impression on the next group of punters that came after him.
“The guys behind me that played for South after I graduated — they would come to me for punting tips,” Beck said.
Beck doesn’t pay much attention to stats. For him, it’s all about the yardage.
“My big thing is the situation of the game — where I have to put the ball, where it’s going to go and how I’m going to put my team in the best position that I can do,” he said.
Beck said it’s been a dream of his since childhood to play on Sundays. He said he wouldn’t forgo his senior season if the NFL called, however.
“It’s even crazy to think that’s a possibility,” Beck said. “To be honest, I don’t know if I could give up my senior season. I love it here at Georgia Southern and I feel like I’m always one to finish what I started. I do believe I’ll stay here for my last year if that’s an opportunity that comes about.”