It’s a bird … it’s a plane … it’sssss … SuperDrew!
When he ran onto the field for warmups, most people wouldn’t have marked him as a superstar.
When he took the snap from center, most people rapidly changed their minds and started to believe that instead of a locker, he changed into his work uniform in a phone booth.
Drew Beard was simply a magician in cleats. The ‘S’ on his uniform indeed stood for Southeastern, but the fine print might have read Superman.
Southeastern posted 7-3, 7-3 and 8-3 seasons with Beard calling signals. He saw limited action as a freshman. He sparked Southeastern to the school’s first NCAA Division II football playoffs in his senior season.
His numbers speak strongly of his accomplishments. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and averaged 17.4 yards per completion. A pretty good year by any standards.
Except these are not single-year totals. These are career numbers. It means he averaged nearly a first down every two carries and almost two first downs for every completion.
With defensive coaches doing everything except putting out hits on him, Beard just went about his business of giving everybody else the credit for his success.
He carried the ball a whopping 500 times in his career, piling up 2,381 yards on the ground and scoring 28 touchdowns.
He completed 420 passes in 814 attempts for 2,945 yards and 65 touchdowns.
As a freshman, he caught five passes for 74 yards.
Southeastern’s Director of Athletics, Keith Baxter, coached Beard.
“There have been many great football players,” Baxter said, “and Drew Beard certainly ranks among them. He had the ability to change the flow of a game and the ability to determine the outcome of a game.
“The great thing is that he has the same qualities as a person. In his work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), he has influenced many, many people off the field as well as his teammates on the field.
“Drew may not be the best ever, but he’s on a really short list. I was fortunate enough to coach him and he certainly made me a better coach. He’s pretty close to a once-in-a-lifetime player.”
Beard attended Rush Springs High School and the town should have been renamed Rush and Pass Springs because of his complete dominance of total offense numbers.
He played football, basketball, baseball and a “little bit of track.” There was a state championship in football in 1998, All-State football in 1999 and the Oil Bowl (Oklahoma vs. Texas), also in 1999.
Beard was the leading scorer in Class 2A basketball in 2000 and named to the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches All-Star Team.
Beard said, “In 1998, we (brother, a senior; cousin, a sophomore; and Drew, a junior) were able to live out, work toward and achieve a goal during our time at Rush Springs. On one play during the state championship game, I was at quarterback, my cousin at tailback and my brother at fullback.”
Hard to go wrong with a backfield of Beards.
“My confidence as an athlete came through the constant affirmation and encouragement from my dad, mom, brother, other family and the coaches in my life,” Beard said.
“Because of early successes in school sports, my career awards and victories paled in comparison to realizing the significance behind why I was given the ability to play sports,” Beard said. “I gained confidence in the process day in and day out of what it took to be a great follower and leader of people.
“I was given an amazing foundation by my parents, church and peers to be able to succeed in any endeavor I faced.”
Beard joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 2002 and served during his playing career at Southeastern, often leaving after Saturday games to participate in training. After graduation, he joined the National Guard and was later deployed for a 9-month tour in Iraq.
“I loved the fact that I was able to serve my country,” Drew said. “I loved that I could do that while pursuing a college football career and degree.
“I learned some valuable things during my time in the military that helped me in my life and in sports.
“I learned that patience is one of the hardest things to learn, but can be the source of some of the greatest rewards. I also learned that leadership isn’t a title that gives someone power. Service to others is the power that gives someone the opportunity to lead.”
Southeastern’s slogan is Fight. Finish. Faith. Beard equates patience to faith and leadership to finish.
“My purpose with FCA,” Beard said, “is to prepare coaches to model character for their athletes with joy and imagination.
“There is a great need in our world today for leadership. Coaches are the No. 1 influences in our world today and FCA is designed to empower the coaches in their faith to accomplish something that only God has the power to do. We have to invest more time and resources into the lives of coaches who are striving to honor God.”
Beard said the combination of the Southeastern administration, coaches, educators and his peers were simply an extension of my home town. I felt as though I had moved from one home to another when arriving in Durant. The people God put in my life over the five years I was on campus continued to help me grow as a young Christian man, athlete and leader of people.
“The environment that was created in the football program provided an opportunity for every player to grow in all aspects of life. As leaders naturally do, this environment poured out into the other athletic programs, the student body, and the community of Durant. The sports experience alone taught and showed me that vision beyond your means is a necessity in accomplishing great things in your life.
“Two of the great lessons I learned while at Southeastern:
“True relationship can happen only face to face; and that I should never be content, but constantly make progress in my education.”
As his coach, Keith Baxter topped a list of coaches and teachers who stood out and made a huge impact on Beard’s life.
He also had a list of people in the community who had an impact.
He noted that he was sure he had missed someone. The lists have been left out, but you could ask him at the Hall of Fame reception, 4 p.m. Saturday at the Visual and Performing Arts Center.
You could look through the Southeastern football record book and find Beard’s name in several places. He won’t tell you about his records so you will just have to look for yourself.
He was Southeastern’s Male Athlete of the Year three times. Yes, three times even it was a co-honor in 2003. He was the man in 2004 and 2005.
Beard met Chelsi Walls of Panama, Oklahoma, when she was playing on an all-girls intramural basketball team called “JT’s Honeys,” coached by JT Money, also known as Jeremy Tims, Southeastern basketball player and all-time cheerleader.
Beard said, “JT invited Chelsi and her roommates to our athletes bible study. Our relationship started about eight months later and we were married less than two years later on April 30, 2005.”
Chelsi played basketball at Carl Albert Junior College before becoming a Southeastern grad. Their first child, called “the boy” by Beard, is named Bo. The second child, called “the girl” by Beard, is named Baylor.
Baylor was born on April 30, the same day as their marriage.
If he ever forgets Baylor’s birthday and his wedding anniversary, he will need all of his quickness and speed.