Blue Crabs Broadcast Network Play-by-Play guy Brandon Bulanda sat down with former Blue Crabs Pitcher Jesse Beal, Jr to talk about his decision to trade in the diamond for the gridiron in 2018.
Brandon:What ultimately led to your decision to switch sports?
Jesse:I kind of realized I wasn’t getting the opportunities I had hoped for as far as getting a call to join the Winter Leagues. I had some guys I knew from my past that made this switch, and I’ve seen it done before. People have been in my ear about football because of my height for a long time and I just felt, after this past year, I had an opportunity to go after it. I’m still young enough and my body feels great right now, so when the season ended I decided to make the switch.
Brandon:What will you miss about baseball and Southern Maryland specifically?
Jesse:I made a lot of real close friends in the Southern Maryland clubhouse last year that I still keep in contact with right now. We were a real tight-knit group, with a great team and manager. Everybody really got along well and kept it loose in the clubhouse.
Brandon:What experience do you have in football?
Jesse:I did not play in high school, but as I grew into my body and began to get stronger and more athletic, football just intrigued me. I always toyed with the idea of flipping sports and following some of my teammates that made the switch. As soon as baseball season ended I began training to make the switch. I began working on running routes and building a video, which ended up getting some looks. The running backs coach at West Virginia knew me from high school and they ended up having a need at tight end. West Virginia was my number 1 choice from the start, so everything just kind of worked out perfectly for me to make the jump.
Brandon:What has the transition been like from professional athlete to student-athlete?
Jesse:Obviously taking a pay cut was part of the move. The real transition for me has been the transition from baseball to football. I have 120 teammates now. I try to keep my mindset the same, approaching this with a professional attitude, and working hard every day. It’s a little different for me than other student-athletes because I came in with the professional experience. No one has to tell me to go to class, do my work, go to bed early, or anything like that. I learned the importance of all of those things long ago and am carrying my routine into the football world now.
Brandon:What are your goals for football?
Jesse:I want to use this year to feel everything out and try to gain some momentum heading into Spring Football. I feel that it’s too early for me to set long-term goals in football, I’ve only been playing a month. Being drafted out of high school for baseball, I still have all four years of eligibility left so I have plenty of time to figure out my future in football. Right now, I’m just trying to make a good impression on) Dana (Head Coach Holgorsen) and the rest of my teammates and coaches. I am just taking things one day at a time, learning from my teammates and coaches, and working to improve every day at practice.
Brandon:What are your expectations for yourself and WVU football?
Jesse:For myself –I would like to reach a point where I am able to contribute every game. I try not to set expectations for the season yet because I have only been here a month. I’m just working on soaking everything in, and working hard every day. There are a lot of great coaches and players here, with a lot of experience in the sport. I am learning things from them every day and trying to reach a point where I know that I can make a difference for this team, hopefully this year but definitely at some point in the future.
For the team – We feel we are a very good football team with the guys we have returning. With (quarterback) Will Grier coming back and working back to 100%, we feel like we are right up there with the top teams in the country. Our goals are to win the Big 12 this season, and try to compete and get ourselves in the conversation for a playoff spot. We are starting inside the preseason top 25, and there’s no reason West Virginia can’t climb higher and draw some national attention.