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NDSU linebacker has new perspective after June arrest

By Jeff Kolpack 

FARGO, N.D. — It was two years ago at South Dakota State when a freshman linebacker from North Dakota State made his first career start. Travis Beck was sensational.

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On Saturday, he will return to Coughlin-Alumni Stadium a changed person, both on and off the field. Beck said his “outlook is different” after a highly publicized altercation in downtown Fargo June.

“I made a lot of mistakes in my past,” Beck told The Forum. “I’m just trying to live in the moment and try to be more mature, be a leader for these young guys.”

Beck was cleared of an assault charge after Cass County prosecutors said he might have acted in self-defense in a fight that sent another man to the hospital. He was suspended from the team indefinitely and was reinstated when practice began in early August.

“I’m just excited about playing football and getting back in my routine and my schedule,” he said. “I think I’ve done that pretty well.”

Asked if he was worried he would never play again, Beck said it crossed his mind.

“It gives you a new outlook on what you have and you forget what you had,” he said. “Now I’m back playing and I love it.”

Like last year, he’s playing with an injured shoulder that “popped out” during preseason practice in August. He appeared to re-injure it when he made a diving attempt at tackling the quarterback at Kansas State in the season opener.

There have been a few other occasions when he slowly got up off the turf after contact.

He received a new brace from the NDSU head trainer, and Beck said that seems to be working better.

“I’ll stick with that,” he said. “I’ll just have to rehab it better, and we’ll see what it does in the offseason. I’ll see what I have to do.”

Beck is one-third of perhaps the best starting trio of linebackers in NCAA Division I FCS, along with Grant Olson and Carlton Littlejohn. He played every down a year ago, but NDSU appears to be looking to get him more rest this season.

He’s sixth on the team with nine tackles, which would perhaps at least double if he was on the field for every defensive play.

“I think recently he’s gaining more confidence. I know his shoulder has been bothering him,” Olson said. “Just being out there is one of those things that’s a comfort zone for a lot of us on the team. No matter what’s going on in your personal life, when you’re out on the field you can let it go and play football, and I think he’s been able to do that. And I think he’s playing very well.”

Beck broke into the lineup against the Jackrabbits in the seventh game of his freshman season. He led the team in tackles that day with 10 and has been a fixture ever since.

That game started with SDSU taking its first possession and having a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Bison held the Jackrabbits on three plays, and a missed field goal had NDSU celebrating a goal-line stand.

“I’ll always remember that first drive,” Beck said.

NDSU won that game 38-14.

The Bison carry a four-game series winning streak into the 2:05 p.m. Saturday kickoff.

“It’s a big rivalry game, and we know the fans are excited about it too,” Beck said.