MOBILE, Ala. — As a high school quarterback at Battle Ground Academy, C.J. Beathard weighed just 165 pounds. When he headed off to college at Iowa, he had the word "potential" attached to his name.
Four years later, Beathard is ready for his next challenge – the NFL.
The Franklin native is one of six quarterbacks here at the Senior Bowl. Some believe he has the most to gain with a good week. Speaking of gain, Beathard weighed in at 219 pounds here this week.
"I just want to show I can hang with the best of them, play with the best of them,'' Beathard said. "I feel like I have the talent and the ability to be the best quarterback in this draft and it is just a matter of me coming out here and showing it and letting guys know that while my stats might not show I threw for a lot of yards this year, that's just the way Iowa is – we like to run the ball and that is what has been successful for us.
"If I was in a spread offense, could I have thrown for 4,000 yards? Yeah. But I chose not to go to a spread team because I like the pro-style offense and it helped prepare me for the next level."
The 6-foot-2 Beathard went 21-7 as a starter at Iowa, throwing for 1,929 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2016 after netting 2,809 passing yards and 17 touchdowns in his junior season while playing in a run-based offense.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz praised Beathard, who initially committed to Ole Miss while in high school, at season's end.
"It's about moving the team. It's about leading the team," Ferentz said of Beathard's career. "The bottom line is, our players love him. They believe in him. They follow him. He's been a great leader."
At the start of Senior Bowl week, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay wrote that Beathard's leadership ability and elite arm makes him a quality asset late in the draft.
"Beathard has elite toughness and leadership along with a strong arm and sneaky mobility,'' McShay wrote. "But he was difficult to evaluate at times because his offensive line was marginal in pass protection, and his injury-riddled receiving corps did him no favors. He could wind up being the mid-to-late-round gem from this class. He will likely land in a low-pressure situation with the time to sit back, learn and develop."
Beathard, who is playing for the North team, said it's been a good week so far. He's met with NFL officials, while getting to know new teammates, and a new offense.
The journey from BGA to where he is today has been a memorable one, he said.
Beathard is the son of country music songwriter Casey Beathard, and the brother of country music singer Tucker Beathard. His grandfather, Bobby Beathard, is a former general manager of the Redskins and Chargers.
"It has been great,'' Beathard said. "I have been taking it one day, one game at a time. But it has always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL and I've put myself in a position where that is very attainable. I just have to keep working hard and take it one day, one step at a time and do the best I can. I have a great support system, my family, and my parents. Hopefully a good week here could really help."