Rusher gains ground in rewriting records Ex-City standout Beane averages 177 yards per game for Division II Shepherd

November 07, 1998|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

Some guys you know, from the very beginning, will turn out to be exceptional talents. And some guys, like former City College High School standout Damian Beane, catch you completely off guard.

When he started his career at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va., his size, 5 feet 8 and barely 170 pounds, was far from intimidating. His speed was far from blazing. In fact, the coaching staff had no clue how they would use 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 Shepherd coach Monte Cater. "We saw people who we thought were quicker or a little better. We kid him about that now."

They kid him because, in this his third year, Beane has earned a spot among the nation's top players in Division II football. And sometime this afternoon, against Glenville College, Beane will likely continue his rewriting of the Shepherd record books.

Beane needs seven yards on the ground to establish a school career rushing record (he has 4,361) and 20 all-purpose yards (he has 4,737) for the record in that category. Earlier this season Beane took over the top school mark for career rushing touchdowns (42) and career scoring (274 points).

With a 176.6 yards per game rushing average (second in the nation), Beane is a likely All-American and is a candidate for the Harlon Hill Award -- Division II's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. He has helped lead Shepherd to a 7-1 record and the No. 13 ranking in the NCAA Division II poll.

"Everything has happened so fast," said Beane. "I never, never thought it would be like this. But it's real exciting to be so close to getting the record. And to be considered for being the top Division II player in the nation -- that's overwhelming to me."

And not bad for a guy who, at City, wasn't even the featured back in his team's offense. 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 to recruiting Beane because of his grades, according to City coach George Petrides.

"It was combination of his grades and his size, and I wasn't surprised that he wasn't more heavily recruited," Petrides said. "But I always thought he had the ability to play at the next level."

His impact was immediate, gaining 80 yards in the fourth quarter alone in mop-up duty in his first game. He quickly became a starter and, by the end of the season, Beane ranked fifth in the nation in rushing (169.8 yards per game) and sixth nationally in all-purpose yards (193.5). He also established the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference freshman rushing record (1,358 yards).

"He got a chance to start early, and he's been a phenomenon," Cater said. "He's a runner that 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."

And Shepherd fans get a chance to watch Beane for one more year, giving him time to become further entrenched in the league and school record books.

"I think about what would have happened had I gone to a Division I school all the time, but I have no bitterness at all and I'm happy I came here," said Beane, who majors in sports management. "What's happened to me has been great, and I'm glad it's bringing exposure to our team."

Pub Date: 11/07/98

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