Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
BYU's John Beck and Jonny Harline celebrate their touchdown against Oregon during the Las Vegas Bowl in Las Vegas Dec. 21.

It's been 75 days since John Beck hooked up with Jonny Harline for that game-winning touchdown to end the BYU-Utah game, but that play remains a handshake topic where ever the two travel.

From NFL staff members, agents, reporters and other college players, from the East-West Shrine game to Beck's current workouts in Arizona, folks bring up that play, calling it everything from crazy to amazing to unbelievable.

It has also become part of a latent interest in Beck and Harline by NFL teams. Thanks to playing in a TV vacuum most of the season, the duo have had to put on a rally. Many NFL teams are just beginning to understand what transpired with BYU's football team as players head into the NFL Combine in Indianapolis Feb. 22-28.

That is good news for Beck, Harline and Daniel Coats, who were invited. But the committee did not extend an invitation to Cameron Jensen, Jake Kuresa, Eddie Keele or Curtis Brown. That hasn't settled very well with the neglected. Boise State received invitations for eight players.

Those Cougars left out could blame the snub, in part, for lack of TV exposure, on the CSTV-The mtn deal. Keele, who failed to play most of the season due to knee surgery, petitioned the combine organizers and discovered he was narrowly excluded from an available post-season combine slot by a narrow vote.

Fortunately for Beck and Harline, "The Play" — plus notoriety in the Las Vegas Bowl win over Oregon, personal interviews and other post-season developments — have elevated NFL interest.

Beck and Harline both signed with Athletes First, an agency in Los Angeles, whose clients include Steve Young, Ravens tight end Todd Heap and quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Bledsoe.

Beck will be the first Cougar taken. Some NFL camps are evaluating if Harline is a tight end or fits the mold of a big receiver.

Early last season, Beck's stock was second to third round in many NFL notebooks due to two injured ankles when scouts made personal visits back in September.

Today Beck is being told by NFL contacts, he could move up as a first-round draft pick behind leaders JaMarcus Russell (LSU), Brady Quinn (Notre Dame) and Drew Stanton (Michigan State). His agent has told Beck he is in a battle against Stanford's Trent Edwards, Oregon State's Matt Moore and Stanton to be the No. 3 quarterback taken.

In recent years, an average of three quarterbacks were drafted in the first round.

Making a late move?

"That is what I've heard," Beck said of his draft status. "I think there has been movement in the last two months, and I've climbed up in the minds of some. But most NFL teams do not let on who they are looking at and who they might draft."

The combine could work in Beck and Harline's favor, because of exposure.

Beck's agent tells him the most important part of his appearance in the combine is the physical with team doctors, then the personal interview. "At the East-West game, there were a lot of regional scouts doing the interviews. But at the combine, it will be the general managers, head coaches, position coaches and team doctors."

Beck is being tutored by Rod Dowhower, a former Indianapolis Colts head coach and Philadelphia Eagle offensive coordinator, who also worked with Bill Walsh and the 49ers. Dowhower was also head coach at Stanford and Vanderbilt.

"For quarterbacks, running isn't as important as the throwing," Beck said. "Mobility is important. It's not the same for receivers and tight ends, where a lot hinges on 40 times and catching. For the quarterbacks, it's throwing motion, accuracy. They want to see if a guy is or isn't as slow as molasses. Running a 4.4 40 is nice but not necessary because it won't make you any better if you aren't accurate with the ball."

Beck is currently working out every day. For a portion of his workout, he throws with Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky in Mesa. He gets up at 7:30 daily and gets to the gym, where he runs from 9 to 10:30 a.m., before throwing for two hours. He does weight training from 2 to 4 p.m., takes a break for dinner and then stretches for 40 minutes before meeting with Dowhower to review film.

Beck said he's learned a ton from looking at film of his workouts. His brain thinks he's doing something right, but film says something else.

"Taping yourself is one of the best things you can do," Beck said. Dowhower pointed out things Beck thought were OK with his game but were not, like his stance and his body lean coming out of his drops. "My back was arched, and the level I shot out at wasn't what I thought I was doing."

Dowhower pointed out Beck will need to get rid of the ball quicker than he's used to at BYU. If he doesn't, he'll get hit or corners will jump the routes.

In his BYU career, Beck went from throwing the ball with high velocity, to taking something off to make passes more catchable with touch and accuracy. Now he's back to where NFL folks want to see him throw it with velocity.

"They want to see velocity — not that it means anything as a quarterback. Some of the best arms on BYU's team over the years were tight end Doug Jolley and defensive end Shaun Nua, but they weren't quarterbacks," said Beck.

Following the combine, Beck returns to Provo from Phoenix on March 12 to prepare for Pro Day at BYU, a workout organized by Cougar seniors including Harline, Coats, Brown and Zac Collie.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com