His helmet resting atop his head, Beau Reliford signed each football, jersey and notebook as he walked past the line of Redskins fans after the conclusion of Thursday afternoon’s organized team activities. Nearly anonymous to the crowd, Reliford is hoping that a fresh start in the nation’s capital can spark his career.
In order to crack the Redskins roster, the undrafted tight end must show that he can use his size and become effective at blocking opposing linebackers. Some scouting reports after the NFL combine were critical of Reliford’s blocking skills, and likely were the primary result he wasn’t selected. There will be even more focus on that facet of his game as the Redskins look for players who can protect rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“The blocking has developed a lot,” said Reliford. “And I think it’s going to help me out down the road.”
But Reliford has a height advantage over other tight ends and showed solid footwork as backup quarterback Kirk Cousins connected with him on a few crossing patterns Thursday. His 6-foot-6-inch frame makes him the tallest tight end in camp and he’s tied for the team’s tallest player.
His footwork stems from his basketball background; Reliford didn’t play football until his junior year at Dillard (Fla.) High School. He said his experience in basketball’s low post helped ease his transition to football, as did the lateral movement he used on defense. He averaged 7.5 rebounds per game as a senior en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the 2008 State Tournament.
“Good feet work, hand eye coordination, able to bend and move,” said Reliford. “It came right into play.”
At Florida State, Reliford struggled to assert himself in the Seminoles’ offense. He totaled just 36 receptions in four years. He hauled in one touchdown in his final two seasons and lost his starting job midway through his senior year to a freshman. As a junior, he was ruled academically ineligible before the Seminoles’ Chick-fil-A Bowl win over South Carolina.
“It was very disappointing. That was a big part of my life that I think helped me change and mature,” Reliford said. “I never let that go, it always with me. With everything I do, I go hard and try to put my all in it.”
Reliford’s given name is Xiangdre and his family nicknamed him Beau when he was a kid.
“The first half is Chinese. It stands for love,” said Reliford. “The rest is just Andre.”
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