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Cathy Beisel saw it when her youngest son was just in elementary school. The teachers cancelled recess football because he and his friends were "too competitive." David Beisel realized it when his son was a freshman in high school, emulating his older brother, Andrew, who is now a linebacker at Missouri State.
That work ethic, that competiveness, came to a head on Thursday on Rockwood-Summit's practice field. Eric Beisel picked up a Missouri hat from a table full of black, red, orange, blue, crimson, cream. He put the flat-bill, snapback over his orange shock of hair.
"In the fall of 2013, you will see me wearing," Beisel began, building suspense. "Black and gold."
Thursday's accomplishment was just one more goal in a lifelong process for the 6-foot-3, 235-pound middle linebacker. Beisel hopes it's a life filled with football, full of bone-jarring hits and sore opponents. When Beisel says he lives and breathes football, it's obvious he means it. He's a 17-year old who often tweets a prayer to the "Football Gods" before he goes to sleep. He's a 17-year old with an epic nickname -- Zeus -- and an on-the-field style that tips its helmet to an older generation of players.
"They call him a throwback," Cathy Beisel said. "He's been compared to some of the older, bigger, physical linebackers. I think that's why Illinois was so interested. They kept talking about Butkus U."
His nickname is a throwback to an even older time, and might come off as a loaded moniker. How do you live up to the greatest Greek god of them all?
There's no going back on "Zeus" for Beisel, however. Too many people have claimed they started the nickname.
"I think it might have started in JV baseball," Eric Beisel said. "I hit with a lot of power and my head coach claims that he started calling me "Zeus" my freshman year. It kind of carried over, and when I started to shine on the football field, whenever I made a big hit, I could hear the echo of "Zeus" in the stands."
The stands will certainly get larger for Beisel, and he's been aware of that since offers started rolling in last fall. As a freshman, he weighed 175 pounds. According to his father, Eric realized at that time he would have to gain weight and put in work in the weight room to get college attention. Now, he weighs nearly 240 pounds, and looks like a defensive end playing middle linebacker.
It only makes sense that his work ethic would carry over off the field. Beisel took recruiting into his own hands, his mother said. Sometimes, his parents were barely part of the process -- in a good way.
"He did 95 percent of it," Cathy Beisel said. "He makes his own videos, puts them on YouTube. He calls coaches, communicates with them. He doesn't hesitate to do that. He's an extremely goal-oriented kid. He always has been."
Beisel's decision, however, came down to more than football. In the end, like so many others, it came down to relationships. That's what set Missouri over the top.
"I feel really comfortable with that staff as a whole," Beisel said. "With Arkansas, I had a really good connection with Coach (Taver) Johnson, but with Mizzou, I had a whole connection with them."
It became a battle between the Tigers and Razorbacks, who will continue to go head-to-head in recruiting as they begin a yearly rivalry in 2013. Beisel visited Fayetteville Tuesday, July 17. A week later, he traveled to Columbia.
"They kind of topped things off," Beisel said. "Arkansas set the bar so high last Tuesday. This Tuesday, I went down to Mizzou and they set the bar higher."
Beisel realized his relationship with Missouri's staff as soon as he arrived in Coumbia.
"Right when I got there, the whole coaching staff came out and shook my hand," Beisel said. "They were all having conversations with me."
Missouri is the next step, but it isn't the last one for Beisel. Cathy Beisel's "goal-oriented" youngest son is planning a long football career.
"When he says he's going to be in the NFL, he's serious," Cathy Beisel said.
Before he announced his commitment, Eric Beisel mentioned the NFL after college. His mother, removed about ten yards but standing directly in front of him, began to nod and put her hands together, bringing them near her mouth like a prayer.
The look in her eyes, transfixed on her son, showed there's not a doubt in her mind that he'll make it.
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