Editor's note: Follow the Daily Citizen-News sports department for recruiting features on local high school football players each Friday this summer. Rising seniors with the potential to play at the next level will answer questions leading up to football season this fall.
At 6 foot 7 inches tall and weighing 325 pounds, Dalton High School rising senior Osbaldo Beltran usually stands out among his peers. Entering his final season playing football for the Catamounts, Beltran said he only recently realized his potential for playing beyond high school.
Beltran is one of five returning offensive linemen for Dalton this year, and will enter his second season as the team’s starting left tackle after playing his sophomore season as right tackle. Over the past few months Beltran has received two Division I scholarship offers, from Illinois State University and Tennessee Tech University. According to the soft spoken young man, earning an official offer to play college football was something he wasn’t sure was possible.
Daily Citizen-News: When did you get your two offers?
Beltran: I got the Tennessee Tech one about a month ago, and I got the Illinois State one earlier this spring.
DCN: What was it like when you received that first offer?
Beltran: (Dalton) coach (Matt) Land had the Illinois State coach down in the weight room, and he just wanted to introduce me. We were talking and then (the Illinois State coach) gave me his phone number and said I could contact him whenever I wanted. So I contacted him over the phone and that’s when he offered me.
DCN: What was that like for you to get that first official college offer?
Beltran: I couldn’t believe it. It was my first one, and I’m very grateful for that.
DCN: At what point did you realize that it might be a real opportunity for you to play in college?
Beltran: Honestly, right after Illinois State offered me. Coaches would always tell me that I had a great chance to play at the next level, but once they offered me I realized, "Yeah I really do." I wasn’t really thinking about it until my sophomore year. We had a senior that year, Dylan Cole, who went to play at UTC (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga). I really looked up to him and I started thinking that maybe I could do that, too.
DCN: What did Dylan tell you about the process of reaching the next level?
Beltran: The main thing Dylan showed me was to just put in the work. There’s no substitute for it. He taught me techniques and what to look for in the defensive linemen or linebackers. Just little things you have to know on the offensive line.
DCN: What camps or showcases have you been to this year?
Beltran: I went to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North/South Showcase, the Mercer (University) Mega Camp, the (University of) Memphis camp, and the Tennessee Tech camp. They offered me when I was there. I also went to a Mississippi State (University) camp. It was really nice, they had a big indoor turf field. I haven’t seen anything else like that.
DCN: What are those camps like for you? What are they looking for out of you?
Beltran: They want to see if you can move your feet, and if you can keep your hips low. It’s more about technique. They do a lot of pass set stuff where they can see how you move. I didn’t go to any last year so this was the first summer I went to any camps.
DCN: If you were going to evaluate yourself, what are your strengths and where do you need to improve?
Beltran: I need to get better and moving my feet quicker and keeping my hands up in pass protection. Sometimes I’ll drop my hands a little bit and that’s when the defensive end can slap them. I think I do a good job of keeping my hips low, keeping them at their level. When I go to those camps that’s one of the things they’ve told me, that my hips are good and I do a good job of keeping them low.
DCN: Who has helped you improve the most as a football player?
Beltran: Coach (Bill) Mayo, our offensive line coach (a four-year starter at guard at the University of Tennessee and a consensus All-American in 1984). He’s a really good coach. He’s been there since I was a freshman. He’d keep me next to him at practice, even it I wasn’t on varsity, and show me who to watch and what to look for. Even after practice, he would take me to the side and tell me what I needed to work on. I just try to listen and do as he says.
DCN: What’s most important for you in terms of how you’ll decide between college options?
Beltran: Whichever school can offer me the best education. I talked with Illinois State and they showed me what they can offer me as far as my education goes and getting a job after school. Tennessee Tech may be closer to home, but right now I’m looking at going to Illinois State.
DCN: When did you visit Illinois State? What was that like?
Beltran: I was up there a couple of weekends ago with my parents and my little brother. They showed me around and we took golf carts around the whole campus. It was fun. We stopped by their weight room and I got to talk with their strength coach and see some of the players working out. Then we went and met with an academic advisor who is there to help take care of us in the classroom. Like if we have a game on Saturday, they will make sure we have all our school work done by Friday so we can focus on football during the weekend.
DCN: What gets you most excited about the upcoming season?
Beltran: The Friday nights. Just being out there on Harmon Field going against another team, knowing they’re scared to go against us. I’m looking forward to playing Harrison and Sequoyah. Sequoyah handed it to us last year (in a 42-14 loss), and I’m trying to do the same to them this year. And Harrison beat us the last two years, so we’re looking to end that streak.