Shaun Beyer Hoping to Fill Big Shoes

April 13, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Later this month, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson are expected to be the first tight end teammates selected in the NFL Draft’s first round. Needless to say, them leaving Iowa after their junior seasons creates a large void.

During the last two years, Fant caught 69 passes for 1,013 yards and 18 touchdowns, while Hockenson accumulated 73 catches for 1,080 yards and nine scores. They dominated the opposition.

While it created opportunities for them on the next level, their exit opened one up with the Hawkeyes. The position long has been an integral part of the Hawkeye offense.

Redshirt junior Shaun Beyer (6-5, 244) appears poised to step into a prominent role at there. He’s impressed the coaches when healthy. He missed the second half of last season with a leg injury.

“He was coming on before he got injured and was showing growth and improvement,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said at the start of spring practice. “He’s at a point in his career where this is his chance, his opportunity.”

Beyer took a big step forward in December of 2017 during Pinstripe Bowl prep. When the game rolled around, he was targeted in the end zone on the team’s first series.

With Fant and Hockenson scooping up most of the reps last fall, Beyer and the other tight ends were relegated to special teams’ duty. There, he earned headlines he didn’t want.

In a loss to Wisconsin, Beyer was pushed into a live ball while blocking on a punt return. The Badgers recovered it. Iowa’s return unit messed up, but he received most of the criticism from the outside.

“It sucked. It was just a communication error and it happens. It was just wrong place, wrong time. It was hard to flush because I felt like I let me teammates down but everybody in the building was super supportive,” he said.

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“It was hard to come back and look everybody in the eyes, but everybody was super supportive and had nice things to say. I was eager to show what I could do.”

Beyer originally verbally committed to North Dakota State in August before his senior season at Cedar Rapids (IA) Kennedy High. Iowa and other schools were showing interest but they hadn’t offered a scholarship.

He changed that in his final prep campaign. He helped the Cougars to a 13-1 record and a state runner-up finish, lining up at quarterback, running back, receiver, tight end, linebacker and punter.

As a senior, Beyer caught 43 receptions for 853 yards and 11 touchdowns, rushed 60 times for 682 yards and five scores and completed 5-of-8 passes for 41 yards. He averaged 44.6 yards on 36 punts. Defensively, he registered 62 tackles (13 for loss), six sacks and delivered a Pick-6.

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Air Force and Nebraska offered scholarships on Nov. 4. He set up a visit to Lincoln for the Black Friday game against the Hawkeyes. It never happened.

Iowa extended an opportunity and he committed. The coaches were undecided on where to play him but were confident he’d make them better.

With a roster low on receivers, Beyer lined up there while red shirting as a true freshman. He switched to tight end the following spring.

Beyer has added about 40 pounds since high school. He’s honed his skills as a tight end, including becoming a more proficient blocker, a key to playing time at Iowa.

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He believes he more resembles Fant than Hockenson in that he offers high-end athleticism and speed. In high school, Beyer high jumped 6-7. He wrestled on varsity as a junior and played basketball as a senior.

After suffering his injury last year, he used his time wisely. He focused on watching what made Fant and Hockenson successful.

“I took that time to take mental notes about what those guys really were doing and how they paid attention to detail, just how little things can make a huge difference,” he said.

Beyer has leaned on Fant and Hockenson for advice.

“Just attack everything, give your best effort, that’s all you can do,” he said of what they’ve told him. “You’re going to mess up. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to make big plays. So, just give it all you got.”

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