Alec Beatty Giving Macalester College Fighting Scots Best of Both Worlds
Ah, youth. That time when most of us are foolish enough to believe that we can accomplish anything and that we can stretch our bodies beyond what the limits should be. It is a time of fairy tales for most when anything seems possible, no matter how improbable it may be.
For most of us, the truth sets in at some point and we plummet back to a place most like to call “reality.” We realize, either through lessons we learn on our own or through the prompting of others, that there are some things that we are not going to be able to do or, at the very least, we should not be able to do.
Apparently that message has not reached the ears of Macalester Scots freshman Alec Beatty. Six games into the 2015 campaign he is making a name for himself with his exceptional play on both sides of the ball, and is quickly creating a legend that will likely lead to him being placed among the pantheon of great Fighting Scots players that have taken to the gridiron.
Coming from Topeka, KS, Alec was very highly recruited prospect. With electric playmaking ability and a great football IQ, he was the whole package. His highlights were capturing the attention of college coaches all over the country, including that of Macalester Scots head coach Tony Jennison. Coach Jennison lauded the skills of Beatty and recognized that the then senior in high school was going to be something really special. He probably had no idea how special Alec was going to be.
Beatty first began playing football when he was a seventh grader, because there was not organized football where he lived until he reached intermediate school. He began his time on the field as a fullback, but three games into the season he was moved to quarterback. He was clearly the natural choice.
“In seventh grade they don’t pass too much so they moved me to quarterback and told me they were going to run me out of there. So they moved me to quarterback, and I started running the ball, but I still had to learn to throw, so I just kept working at it. Soon I liked it a lot.”
When Alec reached the ninth grade he was cast as the JV quarterback, where he starred. As the season was coming to an end the varsity quarterback went down with an injury, so Beatty soon found himself playing at the highest level of high school football.
It was an amazing rise, especially considering that he had only been playing organized football for less than three years. It was true that Alec didn’t have a lot of time playing in competitive leagues, but that did not mean that he was not well-educated in the intricacies of the sport or how to play quarterback. However, his education came from a very unusual place.
“Since I couldn’t play organized football when I was younger I just played with my friends in the backyard and we played a lot of video games. That actually taught me the schemes and the routes, so I had a good idea how to play the game before I even started playing.”
While video games may be a fun activity after school, it is not likely that Nintendo or Sony developed football games as a means to teach young boys how to play the sport of football. What’s next? A guy becomes a renowned detective after playing Scooby-Doo Mystery Adventures? This is the just a part of the improbable story that is Alec Beatty.
Beatty may have been a novice to the sport, but it did not take long for him to become a star on the field. In 2013, as the Topeka Trojans varsity quarterback, he rushed for 1,089 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also passed for 1,418-yards, 13-more touchdowns and an impressive 60 percent passer completion rate.
In his senior season he took his game to an even higher level. Alec rushed for 1,101-yards and 19TDs, while throwing for 2,038-yards and 22 scores. That earned him honors as first team All-State for Class 6A and he was chosen as the Centennial League Offensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row. His education on the art of the position may have been unorthodox, but Alec showed that he wasn’t playing video games just for fun.
With such gaudy numbers Beatty found himself a wanted commodity, but he also knew that he did not have the requisite arm strength that most colleges wanted from their quarterback. He wanted a great education and a chance to compete for the quarterback position. That made it easy to decide which college he was going to attend.
“I wanted a good academic school No. 1. I wanted a place where I could come in and be able to play the quarterback position. Here I would be coming in as a quarterback, and so this was a great choice. I am from Kansas and there are not a lot of D-III schools there, plus my parents went to Carleton, so we kind of knew that Division-III was the route for me. With all that in mind, Macalester was the perfect fit.”
While being given a chance to compete for the quarterback role, Coach Jennison had also brought in two other highly touted QBs, plus he had senior Benny Goldman and sophomore Christian Adams ahead of him. It was clear that either Goldman or Adams was going to be given the starting quarterback job, but the talent of Beatty was just too good to let him just sit on the bench. Much to the surprise of Alec, offensive coordinator Marc Davies specially designed a few packages to give his freshman quarterback a chance to make plays.
“I knew coming in that I needed to develop arm strength to be a starting quarterback, so after camp I knew that I was not likely to be starting as the team’s quarterback. However, I knew I could do things with my legs, and I can still throw. Coach Davies told me they had some packages for me, and that we could throw some defenses off a little. I was right on board, and I love it.”
From the first week of the season the freshman found himself taking snaps. With senior running back Zandy Stowell hurt in the first game against Carleton, the coaches leaned on their freshman to carry the load and, in a part time role, he carried the ball 14-times for 85-yards in that contest. He also had his first pass completion, a 12-yard pass play.
It was a great start for the freshman, but he also suffered a fluke injury when his elbow was hit awkwardly, limiting his ability to throw over the next few weeks. He sat out the third game of the season, before returning in week 4 to face Grinnell. In that game he gained 53 more yards on the ground and scored his first college touchdown. Against Knox the following week he added the longest run of his career, a 48-yard touchdown run that served notice that if Alec was given the smallest seam he could easily break through for a long run.
The next week the Fighting Scots took on Ripon, a team that runs a type of offense much different than every other team in the Midwest Conference. Macalester was already depleted on defense and needed some help. Alec was happy to oblige.
“Alec told us he had plenty of gas in the tank,” Coach Jennison recalls of his freshman’s willingness to move to the other side of the ball. “He is such a good athlete that he could play just about anywhere.”
Against Ripon Beatty rushed four times for 25-yards, but he also played safety for a majority of the game. He made eight tackles in the game, including two for losses, all while showing amazing instincts. Clearly watching Richard Sherman in Madden 16 was paying off.
Last week against the Beloit Buccaneers the coaches called on Beatty to help out on defense again, and he came through with a game that will be remembered around the school for a long time. Alec rushed three times for 17-yards, but on defense he made a huge mark. The freshman intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble, plus he added seven tackles. That performance earned him Midwest Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors. He even added a punt return of 19-yards.
Alec Beatty came to Macalester College looking for an incredible, world-class education while still being given the opportunity to be the team’s quarterback. Now he finds himself as the hottest commodity on the Fighting Scots, as all three coordinators are looking for ways to fit the freshman quarterback/free safety/punt returner into their schemes.
What is truly amazing is that he is doing all of this while fully acknowledging that he has some serious work to do if he is going to star at the position he came to Macalester College to play. “Over the next three years I know I need to hit the weight room so I can really work on my arm strength. I know what I need to do to be the starting quarterback here, and I know I need to put in the work if I am going to make that happen.”
With the mark he has already creating, no one should doubt that he will do exactly as he desires. He will hit the weight room, work on his skills and his arm strength, and probably set conference records for quarterbacks. It may not even be surprising if he did all that while intercepting 10 passes a season. That is just how talented Alec Beatty is.
Maybe a freshman should not be having this kind of success already. Maybe he should be struggling under the burden of being eight hours from home, attending classes at one of the most rigorous academic institutions in the country, and absorbing a huge new playbook…well…actually two playbooks (offense and defense). That should be the case, and would likely be true for the vast majority of student-athletes, but this is Alec Beatty. He truly is a one of a kind talent who dreams big and makes those dreams reality.
I guess if there is one thing that Alec Beatty is not capable of learning it is that maybe he shouldn’t be able to do all of this. Shhhh, let’s just not tell him.
Pictures of Alec Beatty in a Macalester Scots uniform courtesy of Jody Russell Photography
By Robert Pannier