KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s new receivers coach, Kevin Beard, didn’t even mention the 164-yard receiving game he had as a player against Florida in 2003 at his introductory press conference last week.
Instead, the 36-year-old Beard talked about relationships — the one he has with Vols first-year offensive coordinator Larry Scott that brought him to Knoxville, and the ones he plans on building with Tennessee’s young receiving corps.
Beard served as a quality control coach at Georgia last year, but the season before, he was the receivers coach on the Miami staff when Scott was serving as the interim head coach.
Miami went 4-2 down the stretch under Scott’s direction after Al Golden was fired, leading players to request Scott be retained as permanent head coach.
“The difference with Larry is, he’s not just there to call the plays, he’s building relationships with players and their families,” Beard told SEC Country. “Once players know you care, they will run through a wall for you, and that’s what Larry brings to the table.
“You can have the greatest playbook, but if no one believes in it, it will be the worst playbook. Or you can have the worst playbook, but if everyone believes, it becomes the best playbook.”
Beard was part of Miami’s 2001 national championship team, a 12-0 group rated by many as one of the best of all-time, featuring such stars as Ed Reed, Clinton Portis, Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Bryant McKinnie, Willis McGahee, Kellen Winslow, Sean Taylor and Jonathan Vilma.
In all, 38 members of that Miami team were drafted into the NFL ranks.
LaVaar Scott, Larry Scott’s younger brother, was a member of that all-time great Hurricanes team, playing in the defensive line rotation.
Beard was friends with LaVaar, and he met Larry while working the Sebring (Fla.) High School football camps, where the younger Scott is head coach.
Larry Scott played offensive tackle at South Florida (1996-1999) when new UT quarterbacks coach Mike Canales was the Bulls’ offensive coordinator.
From there, Larry Scott coached at the high school level before serving eight years as a South Florida assistant, and then Miami.
Scott never forgot about Kevin Beard, and he did what he could to get him on staff with the Hurricanes, and then with the Vols.
“When I was at Miami, Larry was one of the guys that called me to inquire about the operations spot that was open, so he was standing on the table for me then, and three years later, he’s standing on the table for me again,” Beard said.
“That’s a testament to what type of coach he thinks I am, and what he believes I can do with young men, not just technically and fundamentally, but mentally, socially, emotionally, spiritually,” Beard said. “He knows I bring other elements to the table.”
Beard will be counted on to help mentor Tennessee’s talented rising junior, Jauan Jennings, an NFL talent who’s still learning to channel his energies.
Beard is already getting a jump on recruiting, quickly becoming a favorite of Vols prospects.
“I love recruiting, and the reason I love it is you build relationships with young men and families,” Beard said last week at his introductory press conference. “I don’t just recruit players to come to my school, I recruit players to educate them on the process.
“The players are going to know when Tennessee is recruiting you, you have our best interest at heart, and we have your interest at heart.”