The New York Jets will learn a little bit about Terron Beckham this weekend. Beckham, however, will learn much more about himself.
The personal trainer and former fitness model, without a single game of college football experience to his credit, has intrigued the Jets enough to give him a helmet, a tryout as a running back, and no promises at the club's rookie minicamp. He's Odell Beckham's cousin, which won't buy him anything among a collection of rookies looking to make an impression. But Beckham didn't travel his cousin's path to the NFL, and he doesn't want any assistance from his cousin's name, either.
And he might not need it.
At a pro-day workout last month in front of scouts from the Jets, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts, he ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at nearly 230 pounds, and blew scouts away with a 44 1/2-inch vertical jump. That approached the NFL Scouting Combine record (46 inches) in an event that is typically dominated by receivers and defensive backs.
A 230-pound running back isn't supposed to threaten that mark, and yet the scouts only got one good measurement on Beckham, rather than the two chances combine participants get.
And they didn't even see his best.
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The machine that measures the vertical jump -- known as a Vertec -- suspends a stack of moveable bars, separated by a half-inch each, above the athlete. The athlete leaps from a standing position, reaches a hand as high as possible, and pushes as many bars as possible to calculate the measurement.
"I cleared the whole rack the first time, so they had to re-measure to do it again," Beckham said. "After I got 44 1/2 the second time, I guess they were like, 'We get it, you can jump, we've seen enough.'"
Translation: Beckham pushed every half-inch bar on the machine with at least fingertips to spare. Coincidentally, that was exactly how Beckham introduced himself to his trainer, Kevin Dunn.
The TEST Sports Clubs CEO was in Las Vegas at the Olympia Fitness Expo last September testing hundreds of athletes on a Vertec when Beckham, whom he'd never met, walked up and did the very same thing. "I had to re-set the machine. I couldn't believe it," Dunn said. "I've seen him get 46 inches."
Dunn has seen plenty more, actually.
"I've seen him do standing backflips off of stairs, off of turf, he's run up the side of a wall and done a backflip off a wall. He can box-jump 72 inches. He's put up 36 (bench-press) reps of 225 (pounds)," Dunn said. "It's unreal."
And as for that 4.47 40-yard dash?
"That came from an average of the five team scouts that were there," Dunn said. "My watch wasn't involved."
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The story of how Beckham, 23, came to have no experience in college football is nearly as amazing as the fact that the Jets are giving him a weekend tryout.
A move from Texas to Maryland for his last year of high school damaged Beckham's options as a high-school recruit, and he ended up at Division III Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Md. At that level, football is generally a non-scholarship sport, and according to Dunn, Beckham was unclear on the difference between a full scholarship and the financial aid he received in the form of loans. He left the school before he ever played a game because he had no means of paying for school. Beckham said he incurred enough debt to Stevenson that he had to take a job to begin paying it off. His next shot at football was at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, but the misunderstanding at Stevenson thwarted the move.
"They weren't going to release my transcripts if I didn't pay off the debt. After one semester I was out of football again," Beckham said.
He worked as a waiter, a personal trainer, and eventually moved to New York to take a job as a fitness model. But the desire to play football continued to gnaw at him, such that he eventually became determined to get a chance at the NFL without even playing at the college level.
Beckham managed to arrange a workout, primarily for CFL scouts, in Indianapolis the same week as this year's NFL Scouting Combine in February. A private workout with the Colts stemmed from that, no doubt prompting their presence at Beckham's pro-day workout in April. The Jets were impressed enough to schedule a private workout of their own, and general manager Mike Maccagnan was intrigued enough to be there in person.
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Without any college experience, Beckham is obviously a longshot to make the Jets' roster; Dunn believes his best-case scenario might be to get a spot on the Jets' practice squad, where he can develop and learn. Given all the punishment a running back absorbs -- the position has the shortest career span in the NFL -- there is one positive aspect to Beckham's lack of college experience.
There is no mileage on his legs.
"It's like a brand new car," Dunn said. "He's become this freak athlete but he doesn't have any of the battle scars that college players already have when they go into the NFL."
Beckham was ineligible to be drafted last weekend because he was eligible for last year's draft due to when he first entered college (players can't be in two different drafts, per NFL rules). So, unlike most college prospects, there was no need for him to be nervous as the draft unfolded.
For Beckham, that came after the draft had ended.
The call came from Jets pro personnel scout Greg Nejmeh. Beckham was getting his hair cut at the time, and suspended the trim to take the call outside. When he walked back into the barber shop, he sat down to finish the cut, shedding tears and trembling with excitement.
"I had to hold myself together," Beckham said.
This weekend, he's hoping to earn a contract with the club, and a spot in training camp so the Jets can see just how much of Beckham's speed and explosiveness, at 230 pounds, translates with football pads on.
The prospect of a Beckham on each of New York's two NFL rosters is a long way off, but it isn't lost on Terron, either.
"Odell's going to be Odell. He's great and people are always going to be talking about him," he said. "So if anything comes out of me being across town, it's up to me to make the Jets and do something with my name."
Said Dunn: "The Battle of the Beckhams might sell a few tickets in New York."