For LSU sophomore wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., this season has been one of ups and downs. While the 6-0 187-pound former Isidore Newman High School standout has seen his share of bad times this season, he is still the team leader in receiving yards with 561 and two touchdowns.
However, this week, Beckham has something to hang his hat on. Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, with LSU trailing Ole Miss 35-28 in the fourth quarter, Beckham delivered the big play he had been looking for all season. He returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown to tie the game up, something Beckham says he remembers very vividly.
"He punted it kind of deep," said Beckham. "After you get past the first wave on a punt return you're kind of home free, you just have to make one or two guys miss. I got past the first wave, and I saw number 52 flying in, and I just kind of lifted my leg and got past him. And then from then on I saw seven or eight of our guys in front of me leading the way to the end zone, so I just followed them."
Beckham laughed when he explained the feelings he had when he saw fellow receiver Jarvis Landry waving him to the end zone for his second punt return touchdown on the season. He explained that it brought back memories of another big LSU punt return in recent years.
"Yes, I saw him waving me in and it kind of made me laugh while I was running. I remember seeing Pat Peterson doing that for Chad Jones and it was fun," said Beckham.
While the Chad Jones punt return against Mississippi State in 2009 came to the mind of Beckham first, it is hardly the best comparison of big return plays in LSU history.
On Halloween night against Ole Miss in 1959, former LSU great Billy Cannon returned a punt for a touchdown 89 yards to seal the game for LSU. Beckham explained that it was surprising to hear that it was the same yardage and took a similar path to the end zone.
"Actually, somebody told me about the Billy Cannon thing after the game," said Beckham. "It was kind of a shock to me. The day before we left, we were in the hotel, and Billy Cannon was there waiting to talk to everyone. I didn't get a chance to talk to him. I do know that he made more than one or two people miss on that play. A couple of people told me they looked very identical."
Because of the similarities to Cannon's run, the punt return from Beckham will stick in the minds of fans for some time. Beckham said that while he does enjoy being recognized for the play, it just encourages him to work harder.
"It matters and it's an accomplishment," said Beckham. "But in a way you have to use it as motivation and try to make more plays like that. As a player you want to people to talk about the plays that you make and it's just something that you have to keep working on."
With the victory over Ole Miss behind them, Beckham explained that the Tigers have moved on and are focused on Arkansas. Beckham said that he is looking forward to a hard-fought game because he expects to get Arkansas' best shot.
"We're going down there and I feel like we are going to have to steal a win from them," said Beckham. "I don't know if they have a chance to make a bowl with the season that they have had, but it's going to be one last night for their seniors and they are going to come out fired up. They are going to try to take what we have been working for.
"You can never count anybody out in any kind of game in the SEC. Especially when they play a team like LSU. They are always going to come out fired up."
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