CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Hank Beatty never caught punts in high school but the Rochester grad was more than ready for his moment on a big stage in Saturday’s 9-6 win over Iowa. Early in the fourth quarter, Beatty was called into action to be a punt returner after Isaiah Williams left the game with a concussion. The true freshman didn’t flinch, fair catching a Tory Taylor punt on the 15-yard line with a Hawkeyes player in his face.
“I was a little nervous yeah,” Beatty said after practice this week. “He (Bielema) said I was going back there and I was like, ‘I hope I don’t drop it.'”
“He went back there and caught that thing right with a guy, there’s supposed to be a one-yard rule, but his feet were standing on the 10-yard line and the defender’s feet were standing on the 10-yard line, and he caught that ball in tight traffic, it was absolutely awesome.”
Beatty also caught two passes for seven yards in the Iowa game. For the season, Beatty has played in five games total, catching four passes for 23 yards.
“Coming out of high school, I didn’t really expect to be this involved but once I got here and I figured everything out, I had great help from all the older guys and coaching staff,” Beatty said.
With Williams’ status uncertain heading into Saturday’s Homecoming game against Minnesota, Beatty could find himself on the field even more versus the Gophers. The 11 a.m. kickoff is on Big Ten Network.