Title: Harner trying to catch up to his uncle.(Sports Extra)
Date: August 30, 2002 Publication: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL) Author: Bush, JoeByline: Joe Bush Daily Herald Sports Writer
Sometime in the future, Kaneland senior Brent Harner will stand next to his uncle, crouch with him, then beat him to the finish line 40 yards away.
So what, right? Most people over 15 can run faster than their uncles.
Harner's uncle is Don Beebe, a 12-year NFL veteran who once was the NFL's fastest player. Beebe lives now in Yorkville and has kept his name in the spotlight with successful speed camps.
Beebe's best 40-yard-dash time was a 4.21, clocked by the New York Jets in 1989. Harner, a three-year starter at linebacker and tailback, runs a legitimate 4.5.
"One of these days I'm gonna be faster than him," Harner says.
Harner is faster than Beebe right now, actually. In a recent celebrity flag-football game hosted by Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Jim Kelly, Beebe tore the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in one knee.
"I quickly realized how old I was," the 1983 Kaneland grad says.
Harner has benefited from Beebe's speed camps since their inception four years ago, and from Beebe's wisdom as well.
Beebe was known in the NFL for his speed and grit and hustle. Harner has shown the same in his two seasons at Kaneland.
" (Beebe) tells me all the time it's a lot more mental than physical," Harner says.
Harner played some of his sophomore season with a broken hand. Last year he earned Daily Herald Tri-Cities All-Area status by rushing for 875 yards and 11 touchdowns, catching 6 passes for 189 yards and 2 scores, collecting the team's second-most tackles and leading the Knights with 4 sacks.
"I love them both," Harner says of his roles. "I love just nailing people. I like juking people. I get the best of both worlds."
He's put 10 pounds - to 185 - on his 5-foot-11 frame and is poised for a Player of the Year-type season.
"He's acting like a three-year starter," says Knights coach Joe Thorgesen, who also coached Beebe. "He's much stronger, he's faster. He seems to be running with a lot more confidence."
Beebe sees it, too, and despite, or because of, his relationship with Harner, goes as far as saying his nephew could play at a Division I program.
"Especially as a defensive back," Beebe says. "I would see him as more of a strong safety. I'm not saying he couldn't play tailback, but it might take him longer."
Beebe is well aware of the strange aura that surrounds white players who are exceptionally fast. He recalls a question at a media day before one of the Super Bowls he played in with Buffalo, something about whether he had any African-American relatives.
Such matters are far from Harner's mind as he and his mates prepare for Saturday's showdown with Class 4A champ Driscoll.
Besides, Harner believes that he's gotten the most benefit from Beebe's footwork drills, not those that improve straight-ahead speed work.
"In football the only time you use your speed is when you break away," Harner says.
Indeed, Thorgesen is excited about Harner's extra size and recognition of openings in the line.
"He's always had the capability of getting outside," Thorgesen says. "This year he's going to take on the tackler. Last year he got better with each game. This year he's going to be more of a complete back. His vision's improved. The hesitancy's over."
That goes for both sides of the ball, and Harner's demeanor overall. He's a senior now, one who remembers what it was like as a sophomore on the varsity and can help this year's youngsters.
"I was nervous," he says. "I was looking all over the place, like 'Wow, these guys are moving!' I know how they feel. I'm trying to help them out."
By Oct. 5, those sophomores will be darn near juniors, football- wise, and Harner will be able to concentrate on beating Yorkville and settling a minor family feud.
Yorkville junior Craig McQuade is another of Beebe's nephews, and as a safety last season McQuade put a couple good licks on Harner. Beebe watched from the Foxes' sideline as an assistant coach.
Beebe no longer coaches for Yorkville, and McQuade will be the Foxes' quarterback.
"Now it's my turn," Harner says.
Beebe likely will be at that game, and will be proud, whether Harner collides with McQuade or McQuade throws a TD pass or Harner busts free for a TD run.
Before and since the Knights program captured the state's attention with Class 3A titles in 1995 and 1996, it has boasted solid running backs.
Beebe is still the most famous.
Harner has worn No. 22 - Beebe's number at Kaneland - since grade school, in football and basketball.
"Where he's really grown is his confidence in himself," Beebe says of Harner. "The mental part of his game. You have to know you're good or you're probably not gonna get the job done.
"You're gonna see a big year out of him simply because of that."
This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.
COPYRIGHT 2009 Paddock Publications
COPYRIGHT 2009 Paddock Publications
This document provided by HighBeam Research at http://www.highbeam.com