DALTON, Ga. — The balance of Tre Beck's story is yet to be written, but Matt Land has a good idea where it likely would have headed.
So the Dalton High School football coach did something about it.
Beck, who graduated from Dalton last year after accumulating more than 3,000 yards rushing, signed scholarship papers Tuesday night with North Dakota State College of Science. For a player who once was getting looks from the likes of Georgia Tech and Auburn, the news certainly won't make many headlines outside of the northwest Georgia area.
For Beck, though, it represents an opportunity he had nearly given up hope of experiencing. For Land it means a bright young mind will have the opportunity to grow.
"Tre and I met after he graduated and worked out a plan," said Land, who helped get Beck into a community college to improve his grades and who sent out dozens of video highlights of the player. "We continued to stay in touch and he continued to do the things we asked of him.
"Sometimes the best thing that can happen to us is to lose something we love. This year without football and a team to be a part of opened his eyes. He needs to get out of Dalton right now and experience life, and now he has the chance."
Beck was never in academic trouble at Dalton, but he admits he did only enough to get by. His senior season was cut short by a knee injury, and when he didn't make high enough scores on his college board tests, he became a footnote with recruiters. With a home life that Land called "not ideal," Beck's future seemed murky.
"I was really prepared to stay in Dalton and get a job, so I'm just glad to get this chance," said Beck, who found out on Christmas Day of NDSCS's interest and was called this past Sunday with an offer of a full scholarship. "I knew [Land] was sending out the film and calling coaches, but I thought it was a waste of time, to be honest. For him to work so hard for me makes me want to work harder to keep my grades up.
"God's looking out for me and giving me this second chance. I'm blessed to have someone like Coach Land who has helped me. It's a long way to go to North Dakota to play football, but I can't wait because this is a chance for me to start over."
NDSCS is a junior college that has in the past two years placed football players at Florida State, California, Hawaii and Toledo. The number that stood out to Beck and Land, though, is that 99 percent of its last graduation class is employed or pursuing further education.
Beck, who said he hasn't traveled much outside the Southeast, will be leaving soon for the great white North. Land can't wait to see the person who returns.
"I have no doubt Tre Beck will be playing football for a long time," Land said, "and I'm certain somewhere -- and maybe we'll be fortunate enough for it to be in Dalton -- he will have a positive impact on a community."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...