The 90 Illini #37: Marquez Beason
You have currently viewed 1 story this month.
IlliniBoard now offers two free stories per month, for more please subscribe.
I'm an unabashed injury optimist. For years I told people that Dre Brown's five knee surgeries did not mean his career was finished, and then my optimism paid off with Dre Brown's 2018 and 2019 seasons. So I apply that to everyone. Every player is just one surgery away from being back to 100%.
And I have my examples that I point to for every injury. When Mike Epstein missed most of a second season with the same stress fracture in his foot, I pointed to Justin Hardee. Hardee missed most of two seasons with a stress fracture in his foot. And then it finally healed and he played his senior season (plus four going on five seasons in the NFL) injury-free. Just give it time.
I know that this isn't the case for every injured player. I fully understand the countless examples of careers that were never the same after a severe injury. I hoped that Edwin Carter's severe knee injury wouldn't be the end of his football career, but it was. One game, two catches, two touchdowns, that's it. I know that the two knee injuries meant that Miami Thomas would never be the same cornerback that he was as a freshman in 2007. But I always hope for a Dre Brown scenario.
That's how I am with Beason. When I heard that he was "limited" at August camp last year - a year after his knee surgery - I worried like you did, but I hoped that he'd just had a minor setback and we'd see something like Dre Brown 2017 where his one final knee scope cleaned everything up and by mid-season he was finally ready to return to the field. And Beason was eventually fully cleared by the time the delayed season started in late October. He ended up playing in 7 games at cornerback.
But then this spring, he was held out again. I don't know if it was a new injury or the same knee, but after he switched to wide receiver he only had one practice before missing the next 10. He was cleared the day before the spring game, participated in a few plays, and that was that. Now, he returns for a full fall camp, at wide receiver, hopefully 100% healthy.
37. Marquez Beason
Uniform number: 81
Year in school: Redshirt Freshman (without the Covid waiver, 3 years to play 3; with the Covid waiver, technically 4 years to play 4)
Height: 5'-11" -- Weight: 185 lbs.
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
High School: Duncanville HS
Five best offers: Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, LSU
Tom Cruise rating:
2020 statistics: Played in 7 games at cornerback, 2 starts. 7 tackles on the season.
I wrote this in his LLUOI post and I still believe it to be true. If I were to rank the top five Illini football recruits the last 30 years (THIRTY YEARS), the list would be as follows:
- Arrelious Benn - 2007
- Eric Jefferson - 1996
- Martez Wilson - 2007
- Marquez Beason - 2019
- Rashard Mendenhall - 2005
Beason's ranking later dropped from top-50 to 99 (because he picked Illinois and not LSU, my cynical brain will tell you). That's why he's now 8th on that "all time recruits" list that 247 has on every team's page. But when he committed, he was easily top-4 in my "I've obsessed over this kind of thing for 30 years" brain which forgets nothing.
Then, at camp his freshman year, he goes up to defend a pass at the back of the endzone, comes down wrong, and is out for the season. The rest... is all listed above.
If you're on the Slack (for Orange Tier subscribers) and you saw my practice notes from spring ball, you know that the very first day I said that I watched the wide receivers and as a unit that practice was... I believe the word I chose was "oof". Some of the starters were out that practice, and we only got to watch 15 minutes of practice, but... oof.
So the staff then started to throw players at the problem. Caleb Griffin left the specialists during practice and worked out at wide receiver. Marquez Beason moved to wide receiver. Isaiah Williams moved to wide receiver. Jafar Armstrong is being brought in from Notre Dame. Casey Washington was recruited back after he transferred out. They're trying everything they can to remove the oof.
How will Beason perform there? Man, it's impossible to say. I'm not sure we've seen him 100% healthy since the early camp practices in 2019. He's now at a new position. If the knee is still an issue, he won't be a factor. If the knee is not an issue, he's a top-5 recruit of the last 30 years finally healthy and ready to contribute.
Hopefully it's B.