Most Georgia fans had never heard of Mark Beard (Coffeyville, Kan./Coffeyville Community College) until right before he visited and subsequently committed to the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive tackle was not exactly a household name. That will soon change now that Beard has arrived in Athens to bolster Georgia’s razor thin offensive line.
DawgNation recently spoke with Randy Cook, Beard’s head coach at Minor High School in Adamsville, Ala., to see what the Bulldogs are getting in the big juco transfer.
“Initially they were hot on him out of high school,” Cook said. “Mark will be the first one to tell you he didn’t apply himself in school like he should have. He went the juco route and got his grades where they needed to be. He paid his dues and is now being rewarded for that.”
Making onto the Coffeyville Community College squad was no easy task. The Red Ravens have a 55-man roster, and only 12 of those spots can go to an out-of-state player. Beard made the team and was voted this season’s MVP by his teammates.
“He is one of those guys that you are never going to outwork,” Cook said. “He is not going to bring any, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, any bad media on any program that he is associated with. He is just a high-character guy.”
Georgia can definitely use leaders off the field, but with losing three starters on the offensive line, the Bulldogs need someone who can step in and play this spring.
“Mark is a good one,” Cook said. “I think he has an opportunity to play. He has been up at the school with me working out. He hasn’t missed a day except the 21st when he signed with Georgia. He could probably handle another 10 pounds, and I think they will put that on him rather quick.
“He has great feet. And the good thing about him is once he gets on you -- look out. His arms are as long as his legs. He is pretty agile for a big man, excellent footwork. That is something he works on. He doesn’t just get after it in the weight room. He works on everything. He is trying to be the total package.”
If Coach Cook sounds excited about the prospect of Beard paying for the Bulldogs, well, that is only natural considering his own personal history. Cook has a vested interest in both the player and the school.
“I was at Georgia from 1976 to 1980 as a player, and I stayed in 1981 as a graduate assistant,” Cook said. “I wish they had more like him. I’d trust him with my family.”
Cook has coached a lot of football since he suited Between the Hedges and he knows talent when he sees it. Beard wasn’t exactly a diamond in the rough.
“He came in as a freshman from a Christian academy, a gangly kid but already 225 pounds," he said. "We brought him up to practice with the varsity after the ninth-grade season was over while there were a few weeks left on the varsity schedule. We would have been fools not to. He took right to it. Then in 10th grade he jumped into that left spot and didn’t miss a beat. We immediately knew he was going to be a good one.”
Georgia coaches hope Beard can do the same next season.