Brandon Bean, Urston Smith both featured on ESPN
GVL / Luke Holmes - Urston Smith (10) celebrates after scoring the touchdown. Grand Valley State University defeated Tiffin 45-7 on Thursday, Sep. 1, 2016.
Grand Valley State football receivers Brandon Bean and Urston Smith have two identifiable things in common: They both play the same position, and they have both accomplished something many young men envy: They’ve both made it on to ESPN.
Bean most recently appeared in front of a national audience Saturday, Nov. 26. During GVSU’s 55-32 win over Texas A&M Commerce, Bean caught a pass and then hurdled over two defenders and landed in the end zone for a touchdown. The play was featured on ESPN’s “Must-see Plays of the Day” for Saturday.
Last year, Smith made a diving catch in GVSU’s 38-34 playoff win over Ferris State that made it to No. 8 on the Nov. 28, 2015 edition of SportsCenter’s Top-10 plays. The Lanthorn sat down with the both of them to see what else the two have in common.
Beau Troutman, Lanthorn sports editor: I don’t mean to pit you two against each other, but I have to ask: Who made the better play?
BB: I won’t even hesitate, Urston’s was. He actually made the Top-10.
US: Personally, Bean’s was because I caught the ball and I’m a receiver, so that’s what I’m supposed to do, but this dude hurdled over two people and then scored.
BB: But you took flight! You were parallel to the ground in the end zone.
BT: Bean, at what point did you decide hurdling was the best route when you were running toward the end zone?
BB: When I caught the ball, I just saw two defenders there. I couldn’t run around them, I didn’t have time to juke. Next thing I knew, I was just in the air. Instinct just took over.
BT: Urston, you’re known as a deep ball threat. How did you track that ball down on your play? Is it more instinctual, or all skill?
US: Basically, I got past the corner and then the ball was in the air for a while, so I was just running trying to catch up to it. I realized at the last second I had to extend my whole body to get to it. I just left the ground, stuck my hands out and it stuck to my gloves.
BB: I’ll tell you what makes that more impressive, Ferris’s field is really hard. So he dove on concrete, you know it hurts.
US: Yeah, after that catch my ribs were hurting really bad.
BT: So if the baseball team asked you to play center field, you think you’d be up to it?
US: Yes. I would definitely play baseball. I’ll be dual-sport just like Bean.
BT: Speaking of dual-sport athletes, Bean, you’re on the track squad, as the ESPN host mentioned. What kind of training goes into getting hops like that?
BB: Actually, the announcer messed up. I’m not a hurdler, I’m a high-jumper. I did hurdles in high school, so it’s just explosion work, developing your calf muscles. I feel like that was just more being an athlete than putting time in.
BT: What’s the highest you can jump?
BB: My highest jump (in the high jump) is 6’11, ¾.
BT: Can you dunk?
BB: Oh yeah, I can throw a dunk down.
BT: Think you could jump as high as him, Urston?
US: Probably not. I can dunk and everything, but this man can stay in the air for a lot longer than I can.
BT: Every guy thinks about being on ESPN one day. Talk about what that feeling is like, seeing yourself make a highlight play in front of a national audience.
US: That feeling was amazing. You sit there and watch ESPN Top-10, you see all these great athletes making these great plays, and you’re like, ‘man, I want to be on there one day.’ It was amazing and all the people that showed love just because you made it on there, they know all the hard work you put in is right there in that play.
BB: Dream come true, man. As a kid, you wake up, go eat breakfast, sit there and watch the highlights from last night, watching idols, watching the best players in the world. To see yourself among great athletes on national television, that’s a great feeling.
BT: Outside of your own, what’s each of your favorite highlight plays? My personal favorite is any Vince Carter dunk. There’s too many to choose from.
US: (New York Giants receiver) Odell Becham’s catch, because that man fully extended his body backward and left the ground, caught it with like three fingers and brought it in for a touchdown. I don’t know how much more athletic you can get than that.
BB: One of my favorites, I remember my reaction when LeBron (James) dunked on (former NBA player) Jason Terry when he was with the Miami Heat. They threw the alley-oop to him, and LeBron just ended his life. That was the No. 1 play for weeks and weeks. That was nasty.
BT: We’ve covered a lot of ground, but I want to see how much you guys have in common. First up: Favorite NFL receiver?
BB: Right now it’s (Pittsburgh Steelers receiver) Antonio Brown. He’s a dog. Him and (Atlanta Falcons receiver) Julio Jones.
US: I like Julio and (Detroit Lions receiver) Anquan Boldin. He’s a big, physical receiver like myself. I try to implement his game as much as I can.
BB: If we’re talking implementing their game, I’ll go (Dallas Cowboys receiver) Dez Bryant. He plays with his heart on his sleeve like I do.
BT: Favorite food?
BB: I’m a breakfast guy. Pancakes, easy.
US: I’m a breakfast dude, too.
US: Mine’s a little different than pancakes, I like waffles.
BT: Favorite movie?
US: 'Coach Carter' and 'Remember the Titans.'
BB: For sure 'Remember the Titans.'
BT: Top hidden talent?
US: I can play the tuba. I played it from fourth grade all the way to my senior year of high school.
BB: It’s not really a hidden talent, but I could be a really good competitive eater. You’d be amazed at how much and how fast I could scarf some stuff down. If I was in a hot dog contest, if you gave me 10 minutes, I’d give you 40 dogs.
BT: Think you could beat the offensive linemen?
US: I feel like a lot of us receivers could eat as much as them. We run the most, we burn it all off.
BT: If I played defense, I’d play…
US: Safety or outside linebacker. Blitzing off the edge, light people up.
BB: Nickel, get my (GVSU senior Marquez Gollman) on, I could do that.
BT: If I got my dream job after college, I’d…
US: I’d be working for the FBI. My major is criminal justice with an emphasis in legal studies.
BB: I’d be an anchor on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter.
BT: Say the first word that comes to mind when I say…Terrell Owens.
BT: Bart Williams?
US: Future Hall-of-Famer.
BT: Matt Mitchell?
BB: He’s going to be mad at me, first thing that came to mind is ‘beard!’
BT: Ferris State?
US: Ketchup and mustard.
BT: Speaking of which, you guys have a big game this Saturday, Dec. 3 in a rematch against the Bulldogs in the NCAA quarterfinal. Something that’s given you guys an advantage this season is depth at the receiver position. How will that help you Saturday?
BB: We just want to make plays for the team, move the ball down the field and put points on the board.
US: We have to be able to make plays whenever our number is called, whenever we see the ball coming our way. Coach Mitchell always says 'be that one-eleventh.' When that ball is in the air, you are Grand Valley football.
BT: OK, I think we’ve talked about everything. Think we’ll see Matt Williams, Nick Dodson or Joe Robbins on ESPN one day?
BB: I’m telling you, man, we got so many playmakers.
US: It could happen at any time, there’s no telling really. We still got a few games left in the season.
BB: You’re going to see all three of them in one game. They can have their own highlight segment, for sure.