Cole Beasley almost walked away from football.
The former undrafted free agent, who recently signed a four-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys, has since become a fan favorite and a standout training camp this summer has many thinking that this season may be Beasley’s breakout moment.
No one has higher expectations for his play than Beasley himself but after having the best receiving year of his career last season, the wideout knows the ceiling has been lifted ever so slightly. Here’s what you need to know about the Texas native:
1. Beasley Signed a Four-Year Contract This Offseason
Beasley made his presence known several times during the Cowboys’ playoff run last year and finished the season with career highs in yards receiving (420) and touchdowns (4). Dallas responded to those numbers with a slightly bigger number, signing Beasley to a four-year contract during the offseason.
According to reports, the signing was worth $13.6 million with $5 million guaranteed. Another $2.4 million will be guaranteed in the new league year in 2016.
2. He’s Been Working as a Punt Returner During Training Camp
He’s never needed money as a motivation, but Beasley’s recent contract has him more than willing to do whatever the Cowboys need him to do on the field. That includes working on the special teams unit. In addition to running routes as Dallas’ third receiver, Beasley has been seeing time as a punt returner and the team hasn’t ruled out the option of using him in that capacity during the regular season. Beasley said:
Any extra opportunities to get the ball in my hands. I’m definitely for it. I’ve had the ball in my hands for a long time, ever since I can remember playing football. I’ve been running with it for a long time.
It’s a different opportunity for Beasley, who worked on the special teams unit just a handful of times during his college career, but one he’s embraced completely. After all, if the Cowboys want him to play, he’ll play. No matter what position.
3. Beasley Thought About Quitting Football After Going Undrafted in 2012
Following a solid, if not under-the-radar, career at Southern Methodist University, Beasley went undrafted in 2012, signing with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent that offseason. But while he had, seemingly, achieved his NFL dream, Beasley still felt unfulfilled.
The headlines after his signing focused on his size, comparing him to other smaller wide receivers and questioning the kind of impact he could have on the field. In August, only a few weeks after joining the team at training camp, Beasley left the team for personal reasons. Dallas coach Jason Garrett explained the moment, saying:
Cole came into my office yesterday and said, he wasn’t going to play football anymore. And we sat down and had a little visit and for now we put him on the left team exempt list. We do get a roster exception for him and we’ll continue to evaluate the situation. He just said it wasn’t in his heart at this time.
It didn’t take long for Beasley to return to the team. He came back to camp just a few days later, explaining that, “There was stuff coming at me from so many directions at one time, and it was just too much to handle… I went home and talked to my dad, I feel like that was a real defining moment for me, it made me who I am today.”
4. He & His Wife, Kyrstin, Welcomed Their First Child Last Year
Beasley and his wife have been married since 2014 and have one son together. The pair also have three dogs together and Beasley frequently mentions them on his Twitter page.
Krystin, meanwhile, is also active on social media, frequently posting updates about her husband’s career and their life away from the football field. Her Twitter is public but her Instagram is private and she recently tweeted “The 400+ friend request on my Insta within a 24 hour time period lets me know it’s football season.”
5. Beasley’s Family Attended Every One of His College Football Games
It seems almost incredible to think about, but Beasley’s family did not miss a single one of his games while he was at Southern Methodist. In fact, his parents Danette and Mike, actually retired from their full-time jobs to make sure they could be in the stands every weekend. They took up summer jobs, working on the Guadalupe River as handymen and shuttle drivers, to help pay for the extensive travel costs.
Beasley explained what that support meant to him during his four years on the college gridiron:
When you’re a kid, you always want to be supported by your parents. They like coming to my games as much as I like them being there.
Although they’re not in the stands for every single Cowboys game, the Beasley family is still just as dedicated to his career.