The Isidore Newman School is a private high school in Uptown New Orleans with an enrollment of just under 1,000 students. You may have heard of a few of her alumni... financial journalist Michael Lewis, Sean Tuohy, who is a former Basketball player and the adoptive father of Ravens' offensive lineman Michael Oher, and Randy Livingston, another former Basketball player. Lest we forget, the brothers Manning, yes, those Mannings. Cooper, Peyton and Eli Manning all prepped at Newman. Impressive to say the least.
Then there is Odell Beckham, Jr. One of the top-end Wide Receiver prospects in an impressive pool of talent, Beckham was a natural talent at the receiver position in high school, notching over 1,000 yards and 19 touchdowns in his senior season. Beckham's decision of where to play his college ball was not a difficult one after he was offered a scholarship by LSU during his junior year. Beckham followed in the footsteps of his father, Odell Sr. who played Running Back for the Tigers from 1989-1992 and his mother Heather who ran Track for LSU from 1991-1993. The younger Beckham even has memories of a certain larger than life LSU alum, Shaquille O'Neal, a friend of his father's, spending time with him as a boy.
Odell Beckham, Jr. showcases his athleticism as a freshman
Unlike most high-end athletes who go through their high school careers quarterbacking a spread option system, Odell Beckham spent his high school career operating exclusively as a receiver and return man. Therefore, it was no surprise that there was little to no learning curve for him in his transition to the next level. Beckham ended up seeing the field early and often as a true Freshman in 2011, catching 41 passes for 475 yards and a pair of scores in a run heavy offense operated by inconsistent quarterbacking. A nice way to start his career, as the Tigers won the Southeastern Conference championship and appeared in their 3rd BCS title game.
Beckham came back bigger and stronger as a sophomore in 2012, and with LSU's offense still trying to figure out it's passing game, he posted somewhat similar stats, although his yards per reception increased nicely. He concluded his sophomore season with 43 catches, 713 yards and 2 more scores. It was the following year that Beckham would truly blossom as a future pro prospect. All that was needed was someone who could truly harness the full potential of LSU's stable of playmakers at the skill positions.
Enter Cam Cameron. Known for his productive NFL offenses, Cameron, a longtime friend of LSU Head Coach Les Miles, quickly put his stamp on the Tigers' offense, opening up the passing attack for Quarterback Zach Mettenberger and his top targets, Beckham and Jarvis Landry. The offense improved leaps and bounds as Cameron took advantage of Mettenberger's arm strength and the playmaking abilities of his leading wideouts, transforming the LSU offense from ground and pound to a more balanced attack with the option to strike vertically down the field. Beckham was a major beneficiary, posting 59 receptions for 1,152 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also continued to excel in the return game, highlighted by a 109 yard missed field goal return f or a touchdown against UAB in September. Using his speed to create separation from press coverage and snaring the ball with his unusually large hands, beckham flourished in his lone season under Cameron's tutelage and used it as a platform to make himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft following his strong Junior campaign.
Odell Beckham's athleticism jumps out on tape. From his fast paced vertical routes down field, to his one handed catches, Beckham is NFL ready from a pure athletic standpoint. His knowledge of the game and pro passing concepts has grown exponentially after working with an NFL offensive coordinator in Cameron. He has operated and produced in multiple styles of offense, and gained an intimate knowledge of what goes in to playing the receiver position during his 3 years at LSU, where coaches put a premium on getting more than just receptions from their receivers. Their ability to block on the edge was a major factor in getting on the field, and despite nothaving the most compact frame, Beckham is more than willing to battle to create space on the perimeter for his Running Back.
Like most playmakers, Beckham is prone to the occasional blunder. Whether it be a muffed punt, or a ball stripped out fighting for extra yards after contact, Beckham's talents bring positives that far outweigh the negatives. With his elite athleticism and growing knowledge of his position, alongside his ability to contribute on special teams, Beckham will be poised to make a quick contribution to his future NFL team.
Likely a late 1st rounder, a strong showing at the combine and his pro day will solidify his standing as one of the better prospects in a deeply talented crop of receivers in this year's draft. While eclipsing Peyton Manning as Isidore Newman's favorite son may be a tall task, making plays on the gridiron just comes naturally to Odell Beckham, Jr. An NFL city near you will soon come to realize this.