Kevin Beard has experienced three intense battles against Florida State during his Hurricane career. This year’s contest has a special meaning for the senior wide receiver, however, since it will be his last visit to Tallahassee.
“You relive the tradition of this game every year,” Beard said. “It’s just exciting. The players who chose to go to University of Miami or Florida State University look forward to this time of year when the two huge rivals are able to face each other.”
One of Beard’s best games last season was against FSU, catching four passes for 60 yards and one touchdown. Beard finished his junior season with 23 receptions for 262 yards and four touchdowns.
Beard had a breakthrough game this season against Florida, totaling a career-high 164 yards receiving, including a 62-yard reception and one touchdown.
“When the opportunity comes, you have to make a play,” Beard said. “No letdowns. Either you make it or you don’t. These are the type of games that you definitely want to make it. The more pressure you have to succeed in big games, the better you feel when you accomplish your goals.”
When asked about UM’s performance thus far, Beard claimed that the ‘Canes have nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. There are a few things he feels the team needs to work on, such as cutting down on penalties and turnovers, but that is being addressed every week in practice.
Beard has confidence in the team, knowing what they are capable of doing. When the time comes, he says, the rest of the country will see what the Hurricanes are made of.
“We don’t look [to point fingers at each other],” Beard said. “You just have to get the job done – every position counts. Every opportunity counts. Like the saying goes, there is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’ If one person makes a mistake, the whole team makes a mistake – that’s how we look at it.”
Every college athlete looks up to certain professionals and attempts to emulate their style of play. Most of the players Beard looks up to in the NFL are former Hurricanes, including Ed Reed, Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Andre King, and Bubba Franks.
“I talk to them on a regular basis,” Beard said. “They tell me what they’re going through and I tell them what is going on with me. We just keep each other in check and motivate each other to continue improving.”
At the same time, being a senior on the squad compels Beard to assume a leadership role. As much as he takes advice from his former teammates, he now helps the younger players handle the pressures that come with being a ‘Cane.
“I try to take in everyone I can,” Beard said. “Anyone who wants to hear it, I let them hear it. I’m always talking, and always encouraging. I think there are about 4 or 5 guys that I tend to be around more, including Sinorice Moss, Ryan Moore, Greg Threat, Darnell Jenkins, and Devin Hester. Those guys are kind of young and they need a little direction.”
“Kevin Beard has been here for a while,” Moss said. “Being a freshman last year, and a sophomore this year, I really look up to him and take his advice on things. On how to run routs, how to get open, and how to catch the ball. I work with him a lot in practice and a lot off the field watching film. He’s been a great influence on me this year.”
Beard feels his senior season has been a success thus far. He has been catching the ball, blocking, and motivating his teammates on a weekly basis. While focusing on winning another title, he is at the same time preparing for the next level.
“It’s a business, the NFL,” Beard said. “You never really get to go pretty much where you want to go, and if you do, you’re kind of lucky. You just feel honored to have that option at the end of your senior season, and hopefully I will have that opportunity and will be able to make the best of it.”