Penn sprint football coach Bill Wagner chuckles when he thinks about his favorite memory of his senior captain and running back Mike Beamish. “Wow,” he replies, “He’s had a lot of big games.”
It’s hard to find someone who won’t smile when they talk about Beamish. Well, except maybe a Mansfield defensive lineman. Regardless, whether it’s his coach, his quarterback or his teammates, there is nothing but praise for the Quakers’ running back as he prepares to lace up his cleats in his home finale for the Red and Blue this Friday night at Franklin Field.
Beamish is currently the program’s third all-time leading rusher, but it took an alignment of the stars for “Beam” — as Wagner affectionally calls him — to line up in Penn’s backfield.
While Beamish was recruited by multiple Division I programs for his punting ability, Wagner was able to get his hands on a tape of the now-senior from Penn’s varsity team. Except in the tape Beamish wasn’t just punting, he was playing quarterback. That’s when Wagner stepped in and convinced Beamish to join his squad.
When Beamish hurt his shoulder in his county’s all-star game and his quarterback aspirations were put on hold, Wagner had to improvise.
“What can he play, what can he do?” Wagner remembers thinking, “He’s got great legs and lower body so I said: ‘Mike, why don’t you start running with the backs ...’ and before you know it he ended up being a running back and that’s how that happened.”
But as always, whether it was a position change or another trip to his hometown to take on Mansfield, where his father played college ball, Beamish gave it his all.
“He’s one of the most consistent guys on the team,” sophomore quarterback Mike McCurdy said of the man with whom he shares the backfield.
One reason for that, which Wagner and McCurdy both commented on, is that he always brings his “A” game to practice.
The first time McCurdy met Beamish was in a captain’s meeting with the freshman last year. “I remember thinking it must say a lot about a guy that he’s a captain as a junior,” McCurdy said.
But, it was no hard choice to make Beamish a captain in his junior season, as McCurdy soon learned.
“Every team needs leadership,” Wagner said. “And there’s different kinds of leadership Beam has the leadership not only to talk, to say the right things at the right time, but he also can do it on the field.”
Although, as McCurdy affectionately points out, there may be one thing that Beamish can’t quite do on the field.
“My favorite thing about Beamish is that anytime he gets into the open field ... Mike Beamish is the only guy in the league who makes a direct route for the one guy who could tackle him and just bowls him over for five yards,” McCurdy said.
“One time I think he tried to do a juke, and he kinda hopped and then he tried to hurdle this guy and he got upended.”
But for a player who is a quarterback and punter by trade it’s hard to fault him for that. In fact it’s one of the things McCurdy praises him for.
“He’s not the biggest dance and make ‘em miss guy,” McCurdy said. “But it says a lot about his personality that even when he’s in the open field he goes out and just tries to punish the other guy. It’s kind of how he leads.”
Despite all of his success and his role on the team, nobody is ready to get sentimental about the last hurrah just yet.
“We’re worried about playing Army right now. Next year’s down the road,” Wagner said.
With two games left in the season, Wagner will enjoy Beamish while he’s got him.
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