There is no official form or certified list of attributes that an athlete must own in order to attract attention from college scouts.
There are, however, certain universal physical traits that heavily influence how much consideration an individual prospect receives, at least initially.
Owatonna’s Payton Beyer checks just about of the proverbial boxes.
Size, check. Leaping ability, check. Athleticism, check. Hands, double-check.
Even without burning speed, Beyer — who was recently measured slightly above 6-foot-3-inches and possesses perhaps the largest set of hands of any player in recent OHS football history — has drawn significant interest from both scholarship levels of the NCAA (Division I and Division II).
Before the global pandemic grinded the offseason to a halt and significantly altered the entire recruiting process, he was on campus at Division I FCS powerhouse South Dakota State University and has since been inundated with personal messages, texts, e-mails and letters from a host of coaches from throughout the Upper Midwest.
“It comes fast,” said Beyer, who was named the 2019-2020 Owatonna High School Male Student Athlete of the Year for the junior class last week. “I mean, it’s actually pretty crazy. It feels like it was just yesterday that I was a sophomore and getting in the games a few snaps here and there and then all the sudden I’m getting all these e-mails and texts and messages from a bunch of coaches.”
Beyer, who has always dreamed of playing sports in college, said coaches started reaching out on a personal level in the immediate aftermath of his breakout junior season in which he racked up almost 600 receiving yards and six touchdowns on offense and added a team-best five interceptions on defense. He is projected as a wide receiver at the next level and one of the things that has impressed college scouts the most is his ability to simply go up and snatch the ball in traffic.
There were few, if any, cornerbacks in the entire Big Southeast District that could stop Beyer one-on-one in 2019, and this was put on full display as part of a highlight video that he believes sparked the entire recruiting process.
“As a sophomore, I got general invites to a bunch of camps that I think all the guys got,” Beyer said. “But after I Tweeted a highlight video from my junior year is when I started getting more personalized messages and coaches started talking about the actual recruiting part.”
After accepting an invite to SDSU’s Junior Day in early-February — an experience that Beyer said went “great” — the three-sport standout has officially been “offered” by the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Bemidji State University, both of which are housed in one of the top Division II leagues in the nation, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
Minnesota-Duluth has won a pair of National Championships in the last dozen years (2008, 2010) and produced an undefeated regular season just two years ago. Bemidji State hasn’t had a losing record for five seasons and has sent two players to the NFL in the last six years alone. For obvious reasons, Beyer hasn’t been able to visit either campus — or any campus for that matter — since the middle of March, but has taken part in several virtual recruiting days that have included Zoom video-conference calls. Each session lasts about two hours and features a tour of the facilities, a question-and-answer portion with the coaching staffs and general information about each program.
“They talk about their offensive schemes and how we would fit into their program,” Beyer said. “Some have video links that you can click for information about the school as well. It’s kept me busy.”
Aside from gathering information about each potential destination, college programs have requested information of their own, asking for Beyer to sent video of himself working through position-specific drills.
For these, it has become a family affair.
“(Colleges) sometimes just ask for footwork stuff, but other times I will have my brother or sister taking video and my dad throwing me some balls and I’ll send that in,” Beyer said. “Everyone in the family helps out.”