- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
Junior college tight end Beau Sandland (Woodland Hills, Calif./Pierce College) is making the most of his first foray into the recruiting process. A non-qualifier out of high school, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound athlete turned in an impressive showing on the recruiting trail this offseason. Beginning in February, Sandland said it felt as though he collected an offer -- and sometimes two -- each day, through the end of spring. Though things have slowed considerably since then with the end of the spring evaluation period and fall camps starting, Monday proved that it isn’t over completely, as Tennessee stepped forward with a scholarship offer.
“It’s been fun,” Sandland said of recruiting. “This is the first time I’ve ever gone through it, so I didn’t fully know what to expect. You hear stories and see the sophomores from last year, but it’s been a really exciting and fun time. It can get a little hectic, but in a good way. It’s been really humbling talking to these schools and having offers from some of the top programs in the nation.”
Several SEC heavyweights extended offers to Sandland, including Florida, Georgia, LSU and Mississippi, though he took opportunities this summer to get a better feel for programs in other conferences. Pac-12 programs Arizona State, California and UCLA received unofficial visits, while Nebraska was the recipient of an official visit. This weekend, Sandland will travel for Oklahoma for his second official visit.
“I look forward to seeing what they have to offer,” Sandland said of the Sooners. “I want to build a stronger relationship as well, because you can only do so much over the phone. It’s only my second visit, so I’ll be looking for some things. I don’t want to use the word comparing, but it’s kind of that. The visits are giving me a better sense of what’s important.”
Sandland said he has begun limiting his focus to schools he feels strongly about and those who have continued to recruit him hard, but he hasn’t set a top group of five or 10.
“My recruitment is still wide open,” Sandland said. “I knew I didn’t want to close any doors or cut off any options because I knew I was going to take this decision into December.”
It will be a quick change for Sandland, who is on track to graduate early and will enroll at his school of choice in January, where he will have three years to play two. He caught 20 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns last season and will likely serve as a big part of a Brahmas offense that features several tall targets on the outside.
There are high hopes for the Pierce team this fall, and many will need to juggle school, football and recruiting. Sandland counts himself fortunate to be one of those this time around. While he might be somewhat new to the recruiting process, he has a good handle on what he is looking for through it.
“There are a lot of things, obviously, that I’m looking for in a school,” he said. “I could make a list about three pages long. But if I had to narrow it down to the most important, I’d say that my position coach is something that’s important. I want to go somewhere that competes in their division, their conference and nationally and is a winning program. And I’d like a program that uses the tight end a lot in the offense.”