Eric Peterson, Published December 31 2013
Beck has proven to be a big-stage presence
Beck capped a stellar freshman season with a Most Valuable Player effort in the 2011 FCS title game in Frisco, helping North Dakota State win its first Division I national crown.
“It is a nice memory to have I guess, but I treat it like any other game,” said Beck, who is now a junior. “Maybe along the road I will look back and be pretty proud about it. But not right now.”
Beck had a game-sealing 63-yard interception return that led to a touchdown in that 2011 title game in which NDSU earned a 17-6 victory against Sam Houston State. That was the first of NDSU’s back-to-back national crowns.
Beck is set to start in his third consecutive national title game Saturday at Toyota Stadium.
“It just seems like we’re playing so well on every side of the ball: offense, defense and special teams,” said Beck, from Calio, N.D. “This playoff run has felt different.”
While he has played in every game, Beck has dealt with a shoulder issue the entire season. The 6-foot, 214-pound outside linebacker estimates his left shoulder has popped out five or six times during games.
“It’s definitely been the toughest (season) physically just because of the shoulder,” Beck said.
Beck ranks fourth on the team with 64 tackles in 14 games, including three tackles for a loss, despite the bad shoulder. He has started all 14 games.
“I think it speaks volumes about his toughness,” Bison head coach Craig Bohl said. “He is very resilient. … He is an excellent football player, and I don’t know if they come much tougher than him.”
Beck said his shoulder has felt good this past week. He doesn’t think it will be an issue in the title game. At times during the season, Beck said the health of his shoulder altered the way he played.
“You just have to play kind of smarter,” Beck said. “I am not going to let it really affect me for this last game.”
The Bison defense and Beck are set to face one of their biggest challenges this season in Towson running back Terrance West. The 5-foot-11, 223-pound junior has rushed for more than 2,400 yards in 15 games and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award.
West rushed for 469 yards and seven TDs on 66 carries in the past two playoff games.
“He’s really fast. He’s got good jump cuts and stuff,” Beck said. “I don’t think we’ve seen a combination like his size and speed. I don’t think we’ve seen that yet this year.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com