KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Kevin Beard hasn’t been on Tennessee’s staff too long, but already, the most recent assistant hired by Butch Jones has earned credibility via his footwork and route-running skills.
“I’m just the older version of them,” said the 36-year-old Beard, whose trademark is to wear cleats to practice each day and demonstrate routes and textbook footwork.
“They saw me wear cleats in the workouts (at Miami) before, and they say, ‘You got cleats on, so show me that route, coach,’ “ Beard said. “They want to put me to the test.”
Beard passed the ultimate test years ago, starring with the great Miami Hurricanes teams of yesteryear, a member of the 2001 national championship group that included 38 NFL draft picks.
Beard’s shining moment came against Florida his senior season of 2003 when, as a team captain, he had 164 yards on seven catches and a touchdown to ignite a historic 38-33 come-from-behind win over the Gators.
Beard said he has not talked to the Tennessee players about his glorious place in Hurricanes’ folklore.
“I really don’t talk about it, because it’s old,” Beard said Thursday after practice. “It happened, it was in the past, I lived it, and I want them to have those days for themselves.
“Every day we have a chance to come out here and develop and get better, they are starting to see how it can happen for them.”
And for those who don’t see improvement clearly enough, Beard said competition is on the way, and the cream will rise to the top.
“You add the players coming in June and there will be good competition,” Beard said. “ Coming from Miami, competition is everything, and it fuels the competitors.
“You are going to do one of two things: You’re gonna fold, or you’re going to focus, so right now they are learning to focus and apply the technique and fundamentals.”