It’s been more than 21 months since Brandon Beachum ran out of the tunnel and onto the field at a packed Beaver Stadium, but he is back and feeling better than ever.
“I hope it will be like I never left but I’m sure it will be pretty much overwhelming,” Beachum said on Wednesday. “(It will) probably even be a better feeling than it was the first time I actually ran out (as a freshman) because I kind of feel this is like my rebirth into football.”
Beachum’s return comes after a longer-than-expected wait. The running back tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a home game against Indiana on Nov. 14, 2009. He worked his way back and thought he was ready to play last season, but the coaches decided to tag him with a medical redshirt him instead.
On Saturday, he will finally get to play again when Penn State opens its season against Indiana State. The 6-foot, 226 pound redshirt junior is listed as the second-string running back behind highly touted sophomore Silas Redd.
“My main goal is just to be an impact player,” Beachum said. “I really want to change the look for this offense. I really want to give us a different dimension as far running the ball goes. And also in the passing game also because I think of myself as a pretty good pass blocker.”
It was difficult watching from the sideline last season, especially since the Nittany Lions had such a disappointing season, Beachum said.
But he said he gained something from watching his teammates play. He now looks at himself as more of a patient running back, waiting for plays to develop instead of simply hitting the hole. It’s something he attributed in part to watching the play of Evan Royster, who was Penn State’s starter the last three years and finished as the program’s all-time leading rusher.
“I never expected to be away from the game for this amount of time, but I really do think it was the best decision for me to redshirt last year,” Beachum said. “And I think I’ve learned a lot from it. I’ve grown a lot from it. I think my body is healthier than it ever has been so hopefully the decision pays off.”
In his freshman and sophomore seasons, Beachum rushed for 227 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He is bigger than the elusive Redd and has a downhill running style, which should provide Penn State’s offense with some nice options.
“It’s finally good to see him running healthy with no worries again,” left guard DeOn’tae Pannell said. “He’s looked real good. We’re going to have a nice one-two punch between Silas Redd and Brandon Beachum.”