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March 29, 2013

Flashing back to Beauharnais' journey to the NFL

Steve Beauharnais had a more eventful high school career than most. Before he was a standout linebacker at Rutgers, Beauharnais was a three-year starter at Saddle Brook High School (Saddle Brook, NJ), and was an All-County selection as a junior.

Beauharnais wound up finishing his career at the North Jersey Parochial League Powerhouse, St Joseph's Regional HS in Montvale, NJ.

Although it was an adjustment, Beauharnais and those closest to him felt it was a necessary move, both to escape the instability of the Saddle Brook program and prove himself against a higher level of competition.

"I wanted to stay loyal, but they kept changing coaches, which was frustrating," Beauharnais said. "In eighth grade, people were saying we'd have a team that could win the state title and I wanted to do that in a town that hadn't before. But not being able to settle in and play was a huge factor in my decision."

Beauharnais originally planned on transferring to Bergen Catholic (Oradell, NJ) before being persuaded to join Tony Karchich's program.

"I met (Former St Joseph's QB) Gabe Hernandez at an underclassmen combine. We became friends after talking about St Joseph's and Saddle Brook," Beauharnais said. "I ran into Gabe again when I was going to make the switch and he said I should stop by a meeting they were having. The rest is history."

At St Joseph's, Beauharnais helped guide the Green Knights to an 11-1 record and the Non-Public Group III state title, while being named The Record's Defensive Player of the Year in the process (99 tackles, 11.5 for loss).

Beauharnais accepted his lone scholarship offer, remaining a Knight, but swapping the green of St Joseph's for the scarlet of Rutgers University.

"I wanted to play against some highly talented teams and when I got that one opportunity I took it," said Beauharnais.

Beauharnais' star shone brightly early in his career on the banks, playing in every game during his freshman year, including three starts at strongside linebacker for Greg Schiano's defense.

Beauharnais has no doubts about the significant impact his move to St Joseph's had on his accelerated development as a player.

"If I hadn't made the switch, I wouldn't have played my freshman year [at Rutgers]," said Beauharnais.

Although he enjoyed a productive career, if there's one regret Beauharnais has about his time on the Banks it's the manner in which his senior season ended.

"Only getting a share of the Big East title really hurt. We should've played Florida in the Sugar Bowl," Beauharnais said. "We had a great team, the best defense in Rutgers history."

Beauharnais changed his post- season plans after receiving a late invite to the Senior Bowl, which may or may not have had something to do with another prominent linebacker from the upcoming class who made headlines this winter.

"I was training for the Texas vs. the Nation game when I got the invite from Phil Savage. I'm not sure, but, I think it might've had something to do with the (Manti) Te'o incident," said Beauharnais.

Four years after he arrived in Piscataway, on the heels of a decorated collegiate career, Beauharnais is now preparing himself for a new career in the NFL.

"I'm just trying to get better and take insight on what people think my flaws are, so I can improve on those, and have as few flaws as possible when I get to camp," Beauharnais said.

Representing the Garfield and Saddle Brook communities, as well as continuing NFL legacies, are just a couple of things that motivate Beauharnais.

"(Miles) Austin and (Luis) Castillo were the main guys growing up and Steve Maneri is from Saddle Brook," Beauharnais said. "There's a lot of talent in those towns, and it would be great to represent those areas and continue the legacy."

If all goes according to plan, Beauharnais won't have to wait much longer to find his own place in the NFL.


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