How Tennessee transfer Dee Beckwith could fit in Rich Scangarello’s UK football offense

·3 min read

Tennessee transfer Dee Beckwith is already on his second position at Kentucky.

UK first listed him as a running back when he was added to the roster in June. When the roster was updated for the start of preseason camp this week, Beckwith had moved to wide receiver.

In reality, neither position fully encapsulates the role Beckwith might fill for Kentucky when he gains full command of coordinator Rich Scangarello’s offense.

“He’s a big boy,” UK Coach Mark Stoops said. “He’s a guy that can confuse you at times because he can play so many different positions. That’s the nice thing. That’s what Rich really liked about him and we liked about him as a staff, was we could be very multiple with him.”

During Kentucky’s open practice Saturday, Beckwith mostly served as a spectator during team scrimmage periods, but even on the sideline he was hard to miss.

At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Beckwith possesses the physical tools that make it easy to see why he was rated as a four-star prospect out of Florence High School in Alabama. He committed to Tennessee’s recruiting class of 2020 over offers from Kentucky, Florida, Auburn, Florida State, Michigan, Ole Miss and Michigan State.

Dee Beckwith was a four-star prospect coming out of high school in Alabama, where he played quarterback, running back and receiver. In two seasons at Tennessee, coaches tried him at safety, linebacker, tight end and running back. He’ll begin his first season at Kentucky as a wide receiver.
Dee Beckwith was a four-star prospect coming out of high school in Alabama, where he played quarterback, running back and receiver. In two seasons at Tennessee, coaches tried him at safety, linebacker, tight end and running back. He’ll begin his first season at Kentucky as a wide receiver.

Beckwith played quarterback, running back and receiver in high school. That versatility may have been a selling point for interested programs, but it also proved to be a problem at Tennessee.

At Tennessee, coaches tried him at safety, linebacker, tight end and running back. Most of his five games played across two seasons were spent on special teams.

“Right when I’d get comfortable and learn that spot, that position, then they’d try to move me again and try me there and there,” Beckwith said. “I just wasn’t set. It was kind of all over the place there.”

At Kentucky, Beckwith is unlikely to be limited to one position, either.

Scangarello’s offense, which he brought to Lexington from the San Francisco 49ers, thrives on highlighting hybrid players who can line up in multiple spots on the field to create possible mismatches without going to the sideline for substitutions. UK coaches consulted with Beckwith about which position he felt most comfortable playing. He chose wide receiver but acknowledges he could also line up at tight end or in the backfield in certain situations.

Considering Beckwith’s limited in-game experience and the time needed to learn the offense, expectations for an early impact should be tempered, but Kentucky coaches made it clear they were high on his potential during his recruiting visit to Lexington.

“(Scangarello) showed me some clips of Deebo Samuel, a lot of them from the 49ers,” Beckwith said. “Broke it down to me how he was going to use me, so it really helped. I could see myself doing that.”

Beckwith’s path to Kentucky was unusual in an era when many recruits promote their every move on social media.

He chose not to publicize any of his visits after entering the transfer portal. Even after committing to Kentucky, Beckwith instructed UK’s staff not to announce he had signed with the program.

Instead, his commitment was made public only when his name appeared on UK’s updated summer roster.

“I knew all the bashing and stuff was going to come on social media,” Beckwith said. “I just wanted to hide it until the last possible second.”

One of Beckwith’s two games played last season was Tennessee’s thrilling 45-42 win over UK at Kroger Field. That game quickly came up in conversation with his new teammates after he enrolled at Kentucky.

If Beckwith makes the impact for Kentucky the Wildcats’ coaches projected he could during the recruiting visit, it will be difficult to avoid rivalry-motivated attention for long though.

“I just came here to play football and have fun,” Beckwith said. “The whole rivalry thing, that comes second.”

After transferring from Tennessee, Dee Beckwith is expected to play multiple positions on the Kentucky football offense.
After transferring from Tennessee, Dee Beckwith is expected to play multiple positions on the Kentucky football offense.

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