Adam Ballard 2.0?

Austin Beaty

There have been whispers about him for some time now. A big, powerful fullback prospect built in the mold of former Navy greats Kyle Eckel and Adam Ballard. The kind of player coaches allude to only offhandedly, never wanting to tip their hats to exactly how much potential they think the player has.

And while any number of incoming fullback recruits may end up being the next in line to Navy's tradition of acclaimed fullbacks, none may be more qualified than incoming Naval Academy Prep standout Austin Beaty, who after a season of running wild in Newport, Rhode Island heads to Annapolis this summer. Beaty, who at 6-foot-2, 229-pounds is built like a brahman bull, originally hails from the proud program of Friendswood High School in Texas. A powerful runner who posted Eric Kettani-like workout numbers while in high school, Beaty reminds many Navy football insiders of former fullback Adam Ballard, who just so happened to coach his fellow Texan during a stint as an assistant at NAPS in 2008. With August and the start of camp fast approaching, I recently caught up with Austin to find out just what he has planed for his first year in Annapolis both on and off the field. .

Adam Nettina (AN): Take us back to your days at Friendswood High School and the recruitment process. Which schools were recruiting you, and which ones offered you scholarships? What made Navy the best fit for you, and ultimately why did you choose to become Midshipmen?

Austin Beaty (AB): The recruiting process went OK. I was getting a lot of interest from Ivy League schools because my dad had a friend with Ivy League connections. I heard from Penn, Columbia, and Brown. I also had an offer from Holy Cross but the Ivy League schools don't offer scholarships so that was something I had to consider. When I was younger I always said I wanted to go to the Academy, but that was the Air Force Academy. My grandfather was in the Air Force so I thought it would be neat and thought it would be a good education to have. I told my High School coach when I was a freshman that I was thinking about Air Force so I was on their radar pretty early. After my junior year Navy came to my high school to look at another player and I caught the coach's eye at Fullback. Not long after that Army called and said they really wanted me and even made an offer. The more I learned about Navy though, the more they interested me and after my visit I was sold. The staff and facilities are first class. Coach O'Rourke is a great recruiter and always made me feel like I would fit into their system.

AN: Take us through your past year. How did it go both on and off the field? Do you feel like you progressed as both an athlete and a student, and do you feel more confident in your abilities to come in and contribute this year?

AB: Everything about NAPS is kept in the dark. I guess some of that comes from not wanting to lose recruits. Things went great on the field and I learned a lot about what to expect from the academic and military side of things. I definitely progressed as a player and as a student and I know I will be better prepared to succeed at the Academy as a result of my time at NAPS.

AN: I was watching an old highlight tape from your high school days, and noticed that you ran a lot of plays out of the shotgun. Was the transition to a three point stance in Navy's option offense a hard one? What are the differences between playing tailback in the two schemes?

AB: Pretty much all our plays were out of the shotgun with an offense that leaned more toward passing. We had a great QB that just graduated and is headed to Texas Tech.  The transition to a three point stance did take a little getting used to though. I never played out of a three point stance in High School.  The biggest differences in the two offenses are that at Navy the fullback position is involved directly in every play. It is much more intense with all the reads and learning the "mesh" system of running. In High School it was more about reading and then running off of blocks from a two point stance from a handoff a few yards deep in the backfield.

AN: How influential was former Navy fullback and NAPS assistant coach Adam Ballard in your development as a ‘B' back this past season. What advice has he given you about playing at the Division I level?

AB: Coach Ballard was the best. He taught me so much about the "B" back position after he just came off of his senior year. He is a tough coach but he was definitely instrumental in my development. I can't repeat his advise word-for-word but it went something like "Don't be a wimp!"

AN: I'm sure you're familiar with a number of recent Navy fullbacks. In terms of your running style, do you try to model yourself off of anyone in particular? What do you think is your greatest asset as a runner, and what do you feel you need to improve on coming into the Academy?

AB: People tell me that I'm more like Ballard than most of the other guys. There have been some great fullbacks recently so I'm just trying to work to continue that tradition. My greatest asset is probably my ability to see the field and read my blocks. Another asset is my leg strength. The one thing the coaches have told me is that I need to work on running lower.

AN: Tell us about the team chemistry of this year's incoming NAPS class. Are you and the other players close? Who are some members of last year's team that you think we should keep our eyes out for on the football field in 2009 and beyond?

AB: We had a great team at NAPS last year. All the players get along real well and we have started to develop that brotherhood you hear people talk about. A few of the players to watch are [David] Zapata at slotback, [Brandon] Turner at receiver, [Garrett] Sherwood at linebacker, and hopefully Beaty at fullback

AN: Do you know what you want to major in once you at the Academy?

AB: I plan to major in quantitative economics.

AN: What do you know about the service commitment for after you graduate? Have any potential service selections (Marine Corps, Surface Warfare, Aviation, etc…) especially interested you?

AB: I'm not sure yet. I have a step brother that just joined the Marines so I think it would d be neat to serve with him but I have plenty of time to make that decision.

 

GoMids thanks Austin for speaking with Adam Nettina. To get in touch with Adam, feel free to drop him a line at AdamNettina - at - gmail.com

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