Husky History No. 8: Will Beatty

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Hello all, and welcome back to Husky History, a new column focusing on one accomplished UConn athlete per week. Each article should detail the athlete’s accolades at Connecticut, as well as their ability to take their games to the professional level. 

This week’s Husky History focuses on UConn football legend Will Beatty. While many knew him as a dominant offensive tackle in the old Big East, Beatty’s journey extends beyond Rentschler Field. 

Growing up in York, Pennsylvania, Beatty was raised by his parents, Keith and Sylvia. Beatty grew up in a very spiritual household, with both of his parents running Mission Home Ministries where they worked with troubled children. After Beatty graduated from high school, his parents decided to move west, starting the Believer’s Fellowship of Arizona in Chandler, Arizona. 

“She had this vision,” said Beatty’s younger brother Charles for the New York Times. “She wanted to start a church in Arizona. So they packed up and moved.” 

As a child, Beatty was able to explore many of his passions, including fashion, art, music, cooking and sports. He found himself particularly active in the latter, attending William Penn High School, earning seven varsity letters across football, basketball and track. The young star played center for the basketball team and tried four different positions in football: defensive end, defensive tackle, tight end and offensive tackle. A true student-athlete, Beatty also was a member of the Future Leaders of America and named to the Honor Roll. 

Coming out of high school, Beatty didn’t garner a ton of interest from college football programs, earning an art scholarship offer before receiving his offer from the University of Connecticut and head coach Randy Edsall. Looking back, Edsall recalled Beatty’s parents telling him, “Hey, Randy, you do whatever you need to do to make him a man, and you have our blessing.” 

A raw talent, Beatty took some time to develop. He redshirted his freshman year in Storrs, the first season that Connecticut played football in the Big East Conference. In 2005, the Pennsylvania product started to really make an impact for the Huskies, protecting the quarterback duo of Matt Bonislawksi and D.J. Hernandez’s blind side at left tackle for eight games, starting four. 

The starting role was officially Beatty’s in his junior year. He played well in the first five games of the year, but on Oct. 7, 2006, Beatty broke his leg in a game at USF and missed the rest of the season. 

2007 saw the senior take yet another big leap. With his durability in question, Beatty started all 13 games at left tackle for Connecticut, earning a shared game ball with the rest of the offensive line and getting another all to himself in a 38-0 win over the University of Maine. His fifth year again was a step up, improving nearly every aspect of his game. His draft stock soared, with some sources projecting Beatty to go as early as the first round. The Huskies did well too, getting the program to their third bowl game ever, a 38-20 win over the Buffalo Bulls. Beatty paved the way for Connecticut running back Donald Brown to run for 261 yards, earning player of the game honors. 

While Beatty had quite the production on the field, he also had production off the field – of food, that is. A cook at heart, the offensive tackle was known for cooking dishes for his Husky teammates, including on Thanksgiving, when so many of them couldn’t go enjoy dinner with their families. 

“I do the fried chicken, the baked chicken, the baked fish,” Beatty said. “I like to make the sweet potatoes and the yams and the macaroni and cheese, the collard greens, the cabbage, the rice puddings, the cheesecakes. Stuff like that… It’s a great way to bond with your teammates, actually. You’re more at ease on a full stomach.” 

Just before graduating from UConn with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Beatty was drafted by the New York Giants with the 60th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, a second-round selection. There was a direct connection from college to NFL coaches, with Edsall working under then-head coach Tom Coughlin at Boston College and for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Edsall gave Beatty the highest of praise. 

“I said, ‘Coach, you’ve got to understand, this guy hasn’t even got close to where he’s maxed out,’ ” recalled Edsall. “He has so much ahead of him. In your type of program, he can flourish.” 

New York saw mixed results from Beatty for the first couple of years, having him spot-start at tackle in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, the UConn star had his best season to date derailed by a detached retina, starting the first 10 games of the year and earning a 74.7 PFF grade for his efforts. That year, the Giants won their second title in five years, giving Beatty his first NFL Championship ring. 

From 2012 to 2014, Beatty enjoyed an even more successful stretch, starting 47 of 48 games for the Giants, despite breaking his leg at the end of the 2013 season. He resigned with the Giants after the 2012 season on a five-year deal worth up to $38.75 million. 

After a torn pectoral injury caused by lifting weights took him out of the 2015 season, the Giants decided to part ways with Beatty the following season. While resigning later that year, the big man played a smaller role, featuring in six games behind new first round talent Ereck Flowers. It was time for Beatty to leave New York, joining the rival Philadelphia Eagles for the 2017 season, his last in the league. While only playing in one game, he earned his second NFL ring, as the Eagles took down the New England Patriots for their first Super Bowl victory. 

After his playing days were over, Beatty had more time to spend with his wife Rebecca and their two daughters, Alessandra Chloe and Victoria Zoe. He was also able to explore his many other interests, entering the fashion world when he launched the William Beatty Apparel Company. 

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