Updated: Dec 5, 2021
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Following our earlier Bech coverage:
When Kayshon Boutte went down with a season ending injury, it was no surprise to any of LSU's fans or teammates that Jack Bech would be next in line as the Tigers' #1 receiving target....even as a true freshman.
Jack's reputation as a future Tiger breakout already preceded his arrival long before he stepped foot on campus, with many analysts, scouts or fans highly anticipating his debut campaign...chanting / mispronouncing his name back and forth online or on the street.
Months prior, most of the freshman's adoring fans had no clue who this young sultan was....but it didn't matter....they wouldn't be forgetting his name any time soon...
Before Bech blazed his own trail in Baton Rouge, the blueprint for his future LSU success would be established at Lafayette's St Thomas More.
Leading the Cougars' all time marks in receptions, touchdowns & receiving yards by the midway point of his senior year, Jack developed into a storied athlete at the school, also excelling on the basketball squad as a rim intimidator.
Soon after his junior breakout season, where he grabbed a ridiculous 20 TD catches throughout 2019 (only bested by close friend Malik Nabers' 21), offers began piling up, including an early flirtation by current LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly's Notre Dame.
Though both Bech and close friend Walker Howard visited South Bend, before long, Jack committed to the University of Vanderbilt, and throughout much of 2020, anyone possessing a pair of eyes wondered why LSU wouldn't offer Lafayette's otherworldly talent.
At the same time....Jack only wanted to play for one school....LSU. Hoping his recruitment would all work out, Bech remained patient and trusted in the process, letting his talent speak for itself.
Finally, after Jack erupted for 238 yards, 11 catches and 2 scores during a defiant outing on the road vs Catholic High, LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron emphatically offered the St Thomas More senior.
Despite LSU's late recognition of Bech's talents (amid the program's most tumultuous off-season on record), RBs Coach Kevin Faulk, WRs Coach Mickey Joseph, TEs Coach Derek Shay & the entire Tigers' recruiting staff made every effort to repair any damage caused by their previous lack of recruitment.
Once LSU's offer remained firmly on the table, Jack's confidence rose to another level, setting Louisiana high school records as he harvested the sorrows of every opponent within a five mile radius, racking up over 200 yards in consecutive beastmode displays during STM's final playoff games;
Catching 1,391 yards total, Bech only failed to register over 100 yards in just 2 of his 10 senior appearances: while blowing the roof off West Gate 54-12, Jack's 37 yards yielded 3 touchdowns before legendary STM Head Coach Jim Hightower grew tired of cleaning the blood off the walls & rested the #1 wide out; then, he missed out on the century mark by just two yards against Carencro, helping QB Walker Howard and Co. to a 340 yard night as well as a 37-22 victory.
Culminating in his masterpiece title game display vs De La Salle, the mercurial Bech registered 232 yards alongside 2 pivotal TDs as St Thomas More hoisted their second straight championship.
Throughout the night, Jack couldn't be tackled, stiff arming would be tacklers into the ground or blazing past, under, around, over or through defenders as if they existed only as mere puppets at his mercy.
While shattering the LHSAA Division II title game receiving record, Bech came within two yards of also passing the all time LHSAA record for any division, being crowned MVP in his final high school game.
Remarkably, over two title games at STM, Bech delivered 418 yards, 5 TDs and 21 catches combined....proving clutch behavior will be a continuing theme throughout his career.
It was around this time when Jack made it official: following in his Uncle Brett and older brother Blain's footsteps, Jack would also be a Tiger.
Bech wasn't even an early enrollee, though he still arrived on campus as "one of the most well conditioned freshmen" LSU's sltrength & conditioning staff had ever seen: thick but not bulky, towering yet full of finesse.
They all called him a tight end, but he definitely didn't play, move or look like one...
Following his epic showing throughout fall camp, the freshman began to receive more attention for his unique combination of size, skill, local celebrity and pure desire than ever before.
LSU's 2021 freshman struck everyone as a bona fide athlete, a dynamo waiting to be unleashed, and there were no shortage of analysts hoping to find a seat aboard the Bech Bandwagon.
LSU's coaches waxed poetically about his every move, Walker Howard publicly declared "everyone respects Jack Bech", former Head Coach Ed Orgeron repeated his name like it was a personal mantra, while radio hosts or analysts lined up to bestow praise upon his every move.
And then the time for talking ended...
When Week 1 rolled around, Jack showcased frightening pace after the catch alongside his fantastic hands, ease of route running and football IQ.
Sadly, #80 was given a ridiculous 2 targets & just a single catchable pass all game, however he racked up 17 yards on his first LSU reception at the Rose Bowl.
After week 2 vs McNeese, where Bech caught 4 passes for 57 yards and finally received more sustained reps, fans continued to grow even more impatient....demanding LSU's offense find Jack Bech somehow, some way.
Week 3 turned into the moment where all the magical components aligned:
Taking on Central Michigan, Bech was feeling confident against the Chippewas' secondary, and his star was truly born that night in Death Valley when he leaped over a cornerback, one handed the ball against his helmet and shoulder pads...never letting go as he landed in the back of Death Valley's end zone.
Tigers Stadium exploded after #80's first touchdown wearing purple & gold....meanwhile, the national media responded in kind:
That entire next week leading to the Auburn showdown, Jack's name wasn't just on the freshman watch list, "Bech" became an instant lead name national analysts such as Kirk Herbstreit, Paul Finebaum, Todd Blackledge & Cole Cubelic couldn't help but repeat....whether he didn't receive the ball, stood on the sidelines or had a monster outing, after finally witnessing #80 in the flesh, the reviews were unanimous.
Following his 81 yard haul against Auburn, burning defenders across the middle after the catch, their defense requiring 8 or 9 guys to take Jack to the ground (a recurring theme throughout 2021), Bech's elite status was well established.
The former STM savage burned defenders on 3rd down, registering twelve 3rd down conversion receptions, 13 gains of 14+ yards, and 27 first down grabs altogether from his 43 total catches...an astounding statistic which more than proves his excellence: it defines Bech's second nature effectiveness.
In fact, he hardly caught a pass that failed to at least rack up 9 yards.
Even when #1 WR Kayshon Boutte sustained a season ending injury which knocked him out for the final 6 games, promoting Jack to the position of LSU's obvious #1 target, we witnessed the freshman on the fringes of Jake Peetz's offense, limited to blocking assignments or removed altogether during critical downs. Time and time again, #80's absence notably cost us games against Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn & Ole Miss, among others.
The Alabama game was a major moment and yet a missed opportunity:
Routinely left wide open or winning separation, only for the Peetz offense to miss prime chances to find #80, had Bech been given the opportunity to make a play on the ball during LSU's final drive, or if offensive coordinator Jake Peetz had decided to deploy the freshman throughout the Tigers' final handful of missed red zone opportunities, we would be talking about Jack's legendary touchdown catch which upset #2 Alabama.
If given the chance to make a play, Jack has continuously shown he won't hesitate, chewing up yards as much as he wears down defenses...but far too often LSU took his presence for granted.
Many crucial targets were uncatchable, even for a super freak such as Bech, however the young powerhouse never gave into frustration, finishing his debut regular season with big nights and touchdowns against Alabama & ULM.
Twelve games into his LSU career, Jack is proving to be an elite Tiger in every sense of the word, capable of handling the physical, mental, and social demands of being one of the country's best overall players....
We've been saying it for years now: Bech is ready for the biggest stages....
Over 12 games where he received rare moments of continuity within Peetz's disappointing / dysfunctional offense, Lafayette's LSU prodigy just demonstrated 43 reasons why the eye test indicates he belongs among the NCAA list of freshmen All-American.
27 First Downs
12 3rd Downs
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: A Huge Thank you to the Bech Family!!!