BOWLING GREEN - Andrew Beam perused the scene with skeptical eyes, knowing he had just one chance to make the right decision.
So Beam did what all smart quarterbacks would do. He checked in with his go-to receiver.
Beam was listening to Bowling Green State University coaches tell him that he would be a perfect fit to play here, that he'd have no problem adjusting from the beaches of California to the cornfields of the Midwest. Beam wanted to believe the hype, but there was only one person he could absolutely trust - his go-to guy. So Beam phoned his former junior college teammate Jermiah Kelley seeking an insider's take of BG's program.
"I said what are the coaches like, what is the school like?" Beam said. "I asked him questions that people wouldn't necessarily get honest answers to on a recruiting visit."
Kelley's answers were purely positive and Beam later signed with the Falcons in February, joining Kelley, with whom he had forged a strong connection at San Joaquin Delta in Stockton, Calif.
"I just told him we had a great coaching staff and the facilities are great," Kelley said. "But the most important thing I told him is the people on the team get along. We're like a big family here and everybody takes care of everybody."
Barring anything unforeseen, Beam will be the backup when the Falcons visit Pittsburgh to open the season on Aug. 30.
He was a significant recruit as BG lost two young quarterbacks over the offseason - Anthony Glaud to a transfer and Nathan Brown to academics. Junior starter Tyler Sheehan and true freshman Aaron Pankratz are the only other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, and the plan is for Pankratz to redshirt. Beam led Delta to a 7-3 record and a bowl game appearance last year, throwing for 2,603 yards and 27 touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions. After conversing with Kelley and visiting the campus, Beam chose BG and opted not to listen to any other suitors, no matter how big the school.
"Andrew has been a great kid for us," coach Gregg Brandon said. "He's jumped in and learned the system. I think if we didn't have as good of a quarterback as Sheehan, Beam could start."
Beam, by all accounts, has had a productive camp. On some days the only thing separating himself and Sheehan is a stripe on Beam's helmet that indicates a first year player. Both quarterbacks release the ball similarly, in a flick of the wrist motion, and both are listed as 6-foot-4. The emergence of Beam may be positively affecting Sheehan, who has been excellent in camp.
"He's throwing great balls," Kelley said of Beam. "He's picking up the stuff very fast. I think he's doing a great job."
Conversely, Beam is wowed by the strides Kelley has made since leaving Delta, where he was the Mustangs' offensive MVP. After playing scarcely for much of last season, Kelley became a force at the end of the year, catching two touchdown passes in a win over Toledo, to which Brandon understated, "He came on for us at the right time."
Kelley, a 6-foot senior, has worked predominately with the first team throughout camp, which speaks volumes to his progression considering the cluster of talented receivers the coaching staff has to choose from.
"Jermiah's grown tremendously since I can remember him at Delta," Beam said. "We have a variety within our receiving corps. There are six to eight guys that could all fill the spots if a guy goes down."
Beam indicated that BG is recruiting at least two Delta players for the 2009 class but did not disclose names for fear of jinxing his words. It's obvious that Beam, as Kelley did for him, will try to sell BG to his former teammates.
"I think you'll see another guy here next year from Delta," Beam said. "Hopefully Delta can become a pipeline to Bowling Green."
RANSOM HURT: Brandon said senior running back Eric Ransom reinjured his knee in practice Friday and the team is awaiting the results of an MRI. Ransom has torn his ACL twice, including last year in the second game of the season against Michigan State. Asked if Ransom was done for the year, Brandon said, "We don't know that yet for sure." Also, sophomore receiver Derek Brighton is out 6 to 8 weeks after undergoing ankle surgery Monday.
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