Dan Beilinson finished his freshman year of high school with zero catches on Panther Creek’s junior varsity squad.
“We (tight ends) just weren’t passed to, really,” he said. “It wasn’t an option.”
Just a few years later, Beilinson has made plans to catch passes in the ACC.
Beilinson, rated by Rivals.com as the best tight end in the state, gave his verbal committment to Duke on Sunday. As a junior last year, he caught 37 passes for 553 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s got to be one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the state,” Panther Creek coach Wayne Bragg said.
At 6-foot-5, Beilinson is a tall target who Bragg said excels in finding openings in coverage for his quarterback to throw to. He’s also unafraid to block, but at just 220 pounds, he has some muscle to add before being able to hold his assigment at the next level.
“He’s got to get stronger and faster and he knows that,” Bragg said. “He even calls me on some of our days off and asks if he can run on the skeleton or use our sled and things like that.”
Beilinson chose the Blue Devils over offers from seven other schools -- including three other ACC schools (N.C. State, Wake Forest and Miami) and East Carolina.
“I was trying to make my final decision pretty soon. As a tight end there’s not many spots to fill, so I felt that pressure to make that decision earlier,” Beilinson said.
“I see a lot of potential in (Duke) right now. I like the way they’re heading and it seems like they’re signing up some good (recruiting) classes right now. The education is great, almost unbeatable. And the coaching staff is fantastic -- great people everywhere -- so you know it’ll be a good environment.”
As a junior, Beilinson was a important cog in Panther Creek’s balanced, pro-style offensive attack. The Catamounts went 13-2 and made it to the 4-AA East final in just its fourth season of varsity football.
“It was one of the best years of my life," Beilinson said. "I really had no regrets and I’m fortunate that everything worked out for me and some of my teammates who are going on to play college ball as well.”
Beilinson, who boasts a 4.7 GPA, said he hopes to major in engineering or something in his top subject -- math. He is also the football team’s punter and started at center for the varsity basketball squad.