MAYO, Fla. — It was more than Jaxson Beach ever imagined.
In front of a packed Lafayette High library, the Hornets’ star quarterback signed Feb. 5 with Valdosta State University, a moment that lived up to the hype.
“It was more, it was a lot more,” Beach said following the ceremony. “There’s a lot of people here and it was awesome to have everybody here coming to support me.”
It was a long time coming for Beach, who had long dreamed of playing at Dale Walker Field and getting his opportunity to play the role of the likes of Chad Hempstead and Nick Bracewell — the Hornet stars that his father, Mark, had helped coach.
For the past three years, Beach got that opportunity and ran — and threw — with it.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Beach rewrote the LHS record book, surpassing those former standouts that he looked up to. In leading the Hornets to a 27-8 record in his three years (and one game) as a starter, Beach completed 482 of 767 passes for 6,995 yards — 1,080 more than the previous school mark set by Brycen Lee — and 84 touchdowns — 17 more than Lee’s old record.
“(Beach) can spin the ball really well,” Valdosta State coach Gary Goff said Thursday during an appearance on Fox Sports Radio Valdosta’s “The X’s and O’s Show.”
The dual-threat Beach also made defenses pay with his legs, rushing for 3,238 yards and 51 touchdowns, another school record, in his career.
Yet, Beach’s legacy extended far beyond all those statistics and records.
“He just had a phenomenal career,” LHS athletic director Joey Pearson said at the start of the ceremony. Pearson coached Beach his sophomore and junior seasons. “When people always asked me about Jaxson through my career, the thing I always told them is he is just the most competitive kid I’ve ever been on the field with.
“He is going to do whatever it takes to win, to beat you and to be great.”
Added Mark Beach, who ascended to the head coach position this past year after serving as Pearson’s offensive coordinator: “They’re getting a guy that will cut you to win, I know that.”
That competitive nature will serve Beach well at VSU. The Blazers are just a year removed from winning their fourth NCAA Division II national championship and spent all of 2019 as the top-ranked team in the country before losing in the final minute to eventual champion West Florida in the playoffs.
In addition to Beach, Valdosta State signed two quarterbacks Feb. 5 — Anthony Mountain from Brunswick (Ga.) High School and Jaycee Harden from Colquitt County (Ga.). The Blazers also had three quarterbacks on its 2019 roster, all underclassmen led by rising senior and two-time Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Year Rogan Wells.
“I’m just a competitor,” Beach said. “Ever since I was little, I just love to win. Back in kindergarten, I always wanted to be first in line when we went to lunch. Just ever since I was little, I wanted to win and I think when those lights come on, I’m ready to compete against whoever is in my way, no matter if they’re bigger, taller, stronger or faster, I’m going to get it done.”
Also helping Beach once he arrives at VSU will be that dual-threat ability, one that is similar to what the Blazers have utilized with Wells — 5,725 yards passing and 1,434 yards rushing the past two years.
“It’s very similar,” Beach said. “I think it’s going to be a great fit for me to get in there and start flinging it around.”
Added Mark Beach: “We were watching film up there and he was excited. They run what we run. He knows what’s going on with it and we feel that’s a huge jump in his advancement in knowing the offense.
“I think he can play there. I think he can compete and I think the situation is really good too. They’ve obviously got a great quarterback that’s already there that he can go in and learn from this year and then it’ll be a dogfight for all the people competing for that next year.
“I just think it’s a great learning environment for a competitor.”