BEANE THERE DOIN’ THAT: Shepherd College
Shepherd College's premier rusher uses his deceptively small size to put this West Virginia school back on the map, in quick time!
By Laura Dayton
Published: Fall 1999
Most of the time we don't know when history is in the making. Did Mrs. Einstein know that her drooling little baby Albert would grow into the smartest man in the world? When little George Washington started his first day at military school, could anyone envision him the father of the greatest country on earth?
On August 3, 1978, Desiree Barnes looked at her newborn Damian Beane with pride, but not an inkling that this little Beane-baby would dominate his college football scene and run into the start of the new millennium with scores of records broken and a solid chance for achieving a lucrative and outstanding contract in pro football. Matter of fact, when Shepherd College coach Monte Cater got his first peek at the 5-foot-8, 175 pound freshman, he wasn't at all certain what he was going to do with him.
“He came in here as one of four good running backs, but he wasn't the guy at the top of the list,” said Cater about Beane's first year, which might best be described as “on the back burner.” There were plenty of bigger and quicker athletes on the new roster.
Beane didn't step onto the Shepherd College Ram's turf with any great fanfare. He wasn't even the featured back when he left Baltimore City College High School in 1996. As a junior, Beane earned All City/County honors as a defensive back, although he also rushed for 952 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a senior he was an honorable mention City/County running back. Colleges were cool about recruiting Beane because of his grades, says City coach George Petrides.
“It was a combination of his grades and his size- both a little lacking back then-and I wasn't surprised that he wasn't more heavily recruited,” recalled Petrides, who added “But, I always thought he had the ability to play at the next level."
Three years, 45 touchdowns, an extra inch of height and more than 30 pounds of rock-solid muscle later, Beane has proven he has what it takes, and then some. The two-time All-American enters the 1999 season as a leading candidate for the Harlon Hill Award (The NCAA Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy) after leading Shepherd to a 10-2 record and its first-ever appearance in the NCAA II Playoffs. The 1998 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) Offensive Player of the Year, Beane did in this college town for Shepherd football what Mark McGwire did for baseball--he jump-started the hearts of the fans by becoming the conference's all-time leading rusher with 4,723 yards--and his presence is now packing the stands with fans shouting to watch Beane run!
Beane's ability showed itself that first 1996 season with the Shepherd Rams, and by following the school's intense and focused strength training program Beane quickly built his speed and size. That first season he quickly became a starter and, by the end of the season, he also established the WVIAC freshman rushing record.
“He got a chance to start out early, and he's been a phenomenon,” Cater says now about the kid that entered Shepherd with little fanfare. “He's a runner who makes a good situation better and makes something out of a not-so-good situation. He's able to get into a mess and get out of it. He has the ability to make people miss, and he's fun to watch.”
Counting Beane's Stats
Beane entered the '99 season as one of the top running backs in NCAA Division II. Last year, Beane was ranked third in rushing with a 177.5 per game average, fourth in all-purpose yards with 189.5 yards, and 13th in scoring with a 10.4 average.
In career rushing among the WVIAC leaders, Beane ranked number one with 4,723 yards, number two in single season rushing with 1,775 yards and number five in career scoring with 292 points.
Beane is also a record breaker, or rather, maker at Shepherd College (see chart).
In addition, Beane has rushed for over 200 yards in 10 games throughout his career, five shy of the NCAA record. Adding this to his 25 game 100 yard plus performances, he has a career average of a whopping 169 yards rushing per game!
How He Did It
There is no question that Beane's performance was bolstered by Shepherd's strength and conditioning program administered by strength coach and 1987 Shepherd graduate Pete Yurish. Under Yurish's guidance their program has become one of the best in the region with more than 80 school records set in the weight room during the last three years alone, while 40 of those records have been set in the last year by current members of the Rams.
Strength training is a critical aspect of the Shepherd College football program. Individual instruction is vitally important and improved team performance on the field is the end result. The athlete-coach relationship is important, and Yurish pushes his athletes to their max. The program is a year-round effort toward betterment, as dictated by the Bigger Faster Stronger principles. Yurish praises the BFS program for his team's low injury record. “We spend most of our time on explosive movements, plyometrics, and core body strength, but we also work on a number of smaller muscles, such as the hamstrings and the neck for example, in order to keep our athletes on the field and off the sidelines. We work for total muscular development by strengthening the entire body. Also, our flexibility program, both static and dynamic, has played a tremendous role in keeping our players playing. It works.”
Their weight room contains some machines, but concentrates on free weights with more than 6000 pounds of iron, squat racks, a full array of benches, neck machines, hip sleds and T-bars. Yurish adds, “We believe in using free weights because of the range of motion and joint integrity benefits. Personally, I feel that the more an athlete can do in space, opposed to a being in a fixed range of motion, the more beneficial the training when playing the game. That's not saying we do not use machines, but they are not the foundation of our program.”
Beane's success on the field parallels his success in the weight room. From 1996 to 1998 he brought his bodyweight up to 212 pounds from his freshman weight of 175, and his body fat down from 14 percent to 11. His power clean has gone from 235 to 285 pounds, squat from 405 to 565 pounds, bench from 275 to 325 pounds and chin-ups from 9 to 18. Proving this Beane can jump, his broad jump has gone from 8-feet-9 inches to 9-feet-6-inches. Not bad, considering he's been training under the BFS principles for only three years, and gone from a hey-look-at-me athlete to the Division II leader.
Easy going off the field, Beane is deceptively quick and agile. “You look at Damian and you think, 'I don't see anything super special here,' “ says Cater. “But he's very quick and if you give him some space, he's going to get an awful lot of mileage out of it. And he's very difficult to tackle in the open field. He seems to get out of so many things. He's shifty and has excellent feet. He's a lot stronger runner than people think."
When Damian arrived on campus, he was virtually unseen because of his size, but when he walked on the field, everyone saw him because his heart was bigger than his body. “Beane weighed 175 lbs. when reporting to camp his freshman year, was very scrawny looking, and was listed fourth on the depth chart. During camp, though, the coaches knew that they had someone special playing tailback,” says Yurish. “However, for Damian to play the entire season, he needed to get to work in the weight room ASAP! The success he had in that season motivated him in the off-season and by the end of his freshman year, he weighed 196 lbs. I'm an old-school guy who believes what you put into something, is what you get out of it, and I think this is the case with Damian. His success on the field definitely parallels his success off the field,” Yurish states. Even though Beane isn't the strongest member of the Ram football team, he definite