By the middle of the second semester last year at
He could've been sitting on the bench in games and sweating with teammates in practices as a freshman walk-on for Tech's men's basketball team, but he decided to bypass the opportunity. It turns out the game meant more to him than he anticipated.
"At first, it wasn't that bad," said Beyer, a 6-foot-7 forward who was an all-region player as a senior at New Bern (N.C.) High School. "I was never a huge fan of (former Tech coach
"I kind of enjoyed my free time and not having to wake up early for practice and weights. I wanted just a regular college life at first. … Then, as the second semester began, I felt that gaping hole from just missing the game."
Now, as Tech (9-4) opens its
"It feels good just to be able to contribute," said Johnston, a 6-3 sophomore guard from Midlothian who's averaging just over 10 minutes per game and averaging 3.4 points per game. "I wouldn't say I'm like a key to it, but when coach puts me in I just want to go in there and knock down a shot when I get it."
Beyer and Johnston, who played four games last season as a freshman walk-on, both had specific roles in the early going. Beyer entered the season as the team's No. 3 power forward behind C.J. Barksdale and freshman Marshall Wood, which meant Beyer probably wasn't going to get much playing time.
Wood went down Dec. 15 with a fractured third metatarsal bone in his left foot. Tech coach James Johnson said Thursday that Wood no longer is wearing a walking boot, but there's still no timetable for his return.
With Wood out, Beyer's minutes dramatically increased. In Tech's last three games, he came off the bench to play 27 minutes against Bradley, 25 minutes against
"I think any time those (walk-ons) can get on the floor, it's good experience for them," Johnson said. "(Beyer has) been practicing and working hard all year. I told those guys at some point they're going to have to help us win a game, and he helped us (against Bradley and BYU)."
He's averaging 1.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in a little over 11 1/2 minutes per contest. After displaying a penchant for getting on the glass in recent games, Beyer could be in for more minutes against Maryland (12-1), which is sixth in the nation in rebounds per game (43) and leads the ACC in rebounding margin (plus-13.5 per game).
"I expect the game to be in the paint again," Johnson said. "That's something that's been every game. It seems like it's been a great rebounding team, or a team that's attacking inside. We've got to be ready for a physical, physical game."
While Beyer has helped Tech's rebounding stats, Johnston has been a deadly shooter from the perimeter. All of his shot attempts have come from 3-point range, and he's made 11 of 23 of them (47.8 percent; best 3-point shooting percentage on the team).