The only time Isaiah Beasley has seen a B on his report card is in his last name.

“I’ve never made a B, so as I went on, they said, ‘We know what you can do, make sure you can get it all squared away,’” Beasley said. “Myself, I set my standards so high and they kind of pushed me because they didn’t want me to drop my standards for any class or anyone. I never lower my standards for anything I do in life.

“It started with school, but it went on with everything I do in life. You continue to try to lead a team. You continue to try to be that motivator. You continue to get better at every opportunity you can.”

That opportunity begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday when North Hardin meets Louisville Waggener at Fairdale in the King of the Bluegrass Bowl.

“This season is really important, one because it’s my last season of high school football and I won’t ever get it back,” Beasley said. “We have goals as a team that we want to accomplish. It’s important to know that even though we’re playing games and we’re going through the week and working on the game plan, I’m still perfecting my own craft and what I do to make myself a better player. Every time you play football, you always have something to get better at.

“And if we continue to get better as players, we continue to get better as a team.”

It’s not like Beasley stepped onto the North Hardin campus four years ago as a physical specimen.

He was what you could describe as your skinny little freshman that wanted to play football.

What started as that has turned into something and someone else.

And that was done in the weight room.

“Without the weight room and getting bigger, stronger I wouldn’t be able to be the player I am right now,” Beasley said. “I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do. It’s just helped me out a lot. If I was that size now, it wouldn’t be great. It wouldn’t work out well. It’s changed me. When you come in as a freshman, you think you’re just there in the weight room until you get on the field.

“As I got older and started to get more involved in everything, I started to understand that’s one of the critical parts of a great team is what you do in the offseason and in the weight room. I saw that and then coaches, and some older guys let me know that if I really go hard in the weight room, it can change me for the better and it did.”

The 5-foot-11, 240-pounder saw that first hand over the summer when he received a preferred walk-on offer from the University of Kentucky.

“Before I was thinking about college in general, but I started going to more camps and it started to come full circle,” Beasley said. “I started loving the game more and it came to me that this was something I wanted to do in college.

“I was there, and we were doing defensive line drills and the recruiter came by. Coach T (Brent Thompson) and Octavious (Oxendine) were there and the recruiter asked them who I was because he didn’t know me. Coach said, ‘He’s one of our defensive linemen.’ I kept going, kept winning my one-on-ones. He started watching me more, telling me who to go against and who not to – and by the end of the camp he offered me a preferred walk-on.

“I didn’t expect that, especially from an SEC, DI school – that’s just a blessing.”

A preferred walk-on has to first be accepted by the university.

Since Beasley is a 4.0 student – something he said he loves writing down – his chances are pretty good at any university.

“It was a good drive home,” Beasley said of the camp at UK. “We were talking about processes and keeping my mind open for other schools because that’s part of the recruiting process. We know that UK is a bigger one, but I’m keeping my mind open, listening to everything and see what’s the right fit for me. That was the end of June and we still have the season ahead of us. That’s not the end all, be all of everything. I’m keeping my mind open and, as the season goes along, trying to feel where I want to play at the next level.

“I feel more confident, but it also let me know that there’s a certain level of play I have to play at – especially with my size and know that’s a DI school, I have to turn it up on everything I do. I have to work even harder than the next guy to get where I want to be.”

Mike Mathison can be reached at 270-505-1758 or mmathison@thenewsenterprise.com.

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