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Nick Wass, FRE
Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta warms up before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Baltimore, his first game since injuring himself during training camp. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

When Dennis Pitta came back in grand fashion Sunday in a Baltimore Ravens win over Minnesota, it struck a cord with the guy who kind of discovered the NFL star.

John Beck, who convinced then BYU head coach Gary Crowton to give Pitta a scholarship one summer in Provo a very long time ago, has observed Pitta’s colossal challenge of trying to recover ever since the Ravens tight end broke his hip in a preseason game last August.

“It’s pretty awesome, to tell you the truth,” said Beck. “For what he’s been through, how he’s handled it all, how hard he’s worked, it is remarkable that he could step in and play that kind of game his first time back on the field.”

Pitta and Beck share the same agent, Justin Schulman with Athletes First.

Pitta caught six passes for 48 yards and a touchdown in Baltimore’s 29-26 win over the Vikings. He looked like his old self, the one that helped propel the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory.

Beck said there are several things that are impressive about Pitta’s return.

First, Pitta was devastated to have his hip broken right before he could launch a post-Super Bowl season. He was entering a contract year when he could establish himself as a franchise tight end.

Second, most players undergoing such a tragedy in training camp would be so discouraged and down they’d give up on the season, pack it in and feel sorry for themselves.

Third, Pitta not only bottled up his disappointment, he found a positive force to push himself through rehab, work extremely hard, and never give up the goal of making it back this season.

“Not only did Dennis work hard, but he was smart about it. He never tried to come back too fast and never got on the field until he was ready. A lot of times, and it was the same in his case, coaches and the organization will push an athlete to get back as fast as possible. But that could lead to further injuries, sometimes even more serious than the original one. Dennis never did that. He was patient and methodical.”

Added Beck: “To jump back in, to do it the way he did in that game, was impressive.”

The former BYU quarterback has patiently waited himself. But an NFL callback has not come his way.

In the meantime, Beck, who lives in San Diego, has been training with legendary baseball and quarterbacks coach Tom House in Los Angles. The things Beck has learned have kept him hungry and eager to keep himself in shape.

House, the pitching coach for Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson, is also mentoring Drew Brees, Tom Brady and many others.

Beck has convinced House to bring his knowledge to Utah for athletes, coaches and parents. House will address an open forum at Pine View High School Jan. 31 and then conduct two three-hour sessions the following Saturday for baseball pitchers and football passers 13 and older.

“He’s never done this before outside of California,” said Beck. “His focus is to find the most efficient way of throwing/pitching since everybody’s body is different. He then gets you to do the right training to go with it. It’s all about rotation. Those that throw, do this — not running backs or linebackers. Phil Mickelson comes to House for training in the offseason, not because he needs another swing coach, but he works on his swing rotation. House is the best there is.”

For more information, parents, coaches and athletes can email [email protected]

“He works with the best of the best,” said Beck.

As for Pitta? Beck sees nothing but success in his future because he is an elite tight end. Beck saw that when Pitta came out of high school and witnessed it when he led the nation in receiving yards at the end of his BYU career.

“He’s a very focused and determined player,” said Beck. “What he’s gone through is inspiring to watch.”


Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at [email protected].