Rookie linebacker Kendell Beckwith has already made an impact on his new team with steady progress thus far in the season. By steady, I mean the rook has fit in and stepped up when injuries to the linebacker corps necessitated it. In the Bucs' narrow Week Five loss to New England, Beckwith registered 14 combined tackles (12 of those were solo) and led all rookies in tackles through the first quarter of the season.
Not bad for a kid from Jackson, Louisiana.
After growing up just outside of Baton Rouge, he attended Louisiana State University, playing alongside fellow Bucs' linebacker Kwon Alexander for two seasons with the Tigers. There must be something in the water down in Death Valley- Beckwith and Alexander are just two of many currently in the NFL to come out of the football powerhouse.
"That's just LSU football," Beckwith said, cheesing hard as he was asked about the kind of players that come out of the school. Looking at the rookie, you see a pride more befitting of a lion than a Tiger light up his face when he talks about his alma mater. The LSU-product was all smiles again when the sentiment of playing back where he calls home was brought up this week.
"As a kid, you want to make it to the NFL," Beckwith said. "For it to actually be happening, it's crazy, you know. I mean it's just the next game, though; our next opponent. You can't get star-struck or anything like that. I have a job to do and so do all the rest of us."
Beckwith playing in New Orleans against the Saints is one of those full-circle moments to some extent. The linebacker has been to exactly one NFL game in his life: Bucs vs. Saints in 2005, played in Baton Rouge, La. because of Hurricane Katrina.
"That was the only NFL game I went to and lo and behold, look where I'm at," Beckwith recalls, as he stands fielding questions in the Buccaneers' locker room… wearing Buccaneers colors… as a Buccaneers player.
"I guess it was just meant to be."
Coming home for Beckwith means coming back to quite a few familiar faces. "It's going to be a big Beckwith fan base. I have a lot of family there."
A look back at all of the match-ups between the Buccaneers and the Saints.
That can mean some pretty lengthy ticket requests, but the expectation was managed. His family has his back- both figuratively in that sense and literally, as there will still be a sizable section rocking 'Beckwith' on their backs in the stands on Sunday, according to the rookie.
"I'll have a nice section behind me," he said.
Homecomings aside, it's no secret the Bucs have been on a tough skid, as of late. The frustration among the team is palpable, and Beckwith is no exception. He knows what he's really going home for, "We have to go down there and get a win."
As for the notion that this game against another division opponent is a big opportunity for the Bucs, Beckwith said, "A big one. The goal is just to stack up some wins."
The Buccaneers will take on the Saints at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.