Loss of two key seniors will have effect on Falcons football, says coach

Posted December 10, 2019

The UW–River Falls football team will look completely different by the time next season is set to begin. For the Falcons, perhaps the most two most notable losses to graduation in May on the offensive side of the football will be Alex Herink, the team’s No. 1 wide receiver, and Ben Beckman, the starting quarterback who has administered the offense for the last two years.

Despite 2019 being only his second year of football at the collegiate level, Herink managed to put himself into the conversation of best receivers to ever play at UWRF. Going back to his first season in 2018 — according to the university statistics — Herink tied the River Falls school record for touchdown receptions in a single season with nine. Herink’s 2018 campaign tied the previous record, which was set by Craig Boen in 1995 and Michael Zweifel in 2007.

Despite not setting any school records in 2019, Herink came close several times throughout the season and was a powerhouse for offensive production. According to NCAA statistics, for the 2019 season Herink ranked in the Top 50 in the country for individual receiving yards per game.

UWRF Head Coach Matt Walker said Herink was a complete game-changer for the offense while was he was on the field.

“He’s just gotten better at every little facet of the game. Having his threat on the field — he affects defenses more than every player I’ve ever had,” Walker said. “He’s not catching 100 balls every game, but the effect that he has that the average fan can’t see is incredible. His vertical threat down the field changes defensive structures and allows us to do other things.”

In addition to the offensive workload that Herink carried, quarterback Beckman had a fantastic season of his own.

When Beckman was handed over the reins in 2018, he had an immediate impact on the offense. Since then, Beckman continued to grow up until the final game of his collegiate career.

“I think the one thing with Ben, from Day 1, you knew he had as much arm talent as anyone I have ever been around,” Walker said. “I have coached some good quarterbacks. I’ve coached guys who have played overseas and have had shots at the next level, and no one has had the arm talent that he has.”

Considering the natural arm talent that Beckman has, in addition to his ability to maneuver the pocket with his legs, Beckman was poised to be one of the most productive quarterbacks in the WIAC during his senior year. That’s exactly what he did. Walker said the changes from 2018 to the 2019 season were noticeable for Beckman.

“He’s continued to grow as a player, he understands the whole offense now, he understands the game way better, he sees coverages as well as anybody I’ve ever had. He’s a full-tool player, he’s not a one-tool guy. He’s got the ability to be this league’s best offensive player,” Walker said.

During his senior year at UWRF, Beckman finished the season ranked No. 5 in the country for Division III football in total yards per game as an individual. Beckman was less than 30 yards per game away from being the most productive offensive player in the country.

Looking back over the last two years, Beckman and Herink’s offensive production cannot be understated. The loss of the two graduating seniors will have a significant impact on the offensive production for the UWRF football program.