For Texas Longhorns junior tight end Andrew Beck, the process this spring was all about learning offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert's new offense, working on his technique, and attempting to become a leader for the first time.
"I really wanted to become a technician," Beck said in the above video. "You work on fundamentals -- hands inside, run your feet, things like that, and I think I've done a pretty good job. There's some room to build still, but I think I've done a pretty good job."
In addition to work at H-back and tight end, Beck has been honing his receiving skills in an effort to build on his eight catches for 77 yards last season as a sophomore, a significant improvement over a freshman season that did not include any receptions.
"They have been having us do a lot," Beck said during the spring. "Today alone, we spread out a little bit, got to catch some passes, got to block a little bit, so kind of where we have always been just diverse and having to do a bunch of things that we enjoy."
Unfortunately, he wasn't able to parlay that those practice habits into a catch in the Orange and White game, as Beck dropped a catchable pass from senior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes on his only target. For a guy who moved to tight end in large part because he impressed former play caller Shawn Watson with his hands during fall camp of his freshman year, Beck hasn't been able to show that same reliability during games.
Now a junior, Beck is also trying to serve as a mentor for younger players in the program like early enrollees Zach Shackelford and Shane Buechele. So, like older players did when he entered the program, he's handing out his number to those guys and making sure that they know that they can call him for advice whenever they want. However, that process isn't without some accompanying terror.
"It's scary, man, I'm getting old," Beck said. "I've got gray hair, it's tough."
Overall, the 2015 season will be a crucial one for Beck -- after flashing late in 2014 after moving over from linebacker, he had offseason shoulder surgery that was supposed to increase his effectiveness as a sophomore. Instead, Beck struggled to acquire defenders to block and didn't consistently show a great deal of physicality.
With blocking specialist Peyton Aucoin set to arrive this season as an extremely accomplished high school blocker, if Beck can't demonstrate a higher level of effectiveness aiding the run game, he may end up giving way to the younger player, no matter his leadership skills.