SAN ANTONIO — Legendary Texas football coach Darrell Royal gave David McWilliams, one of his former players and former coaches, a ringing endorsement before McWilliams left Texas Tech to take the head-coaching job at UT in 1987.
“He looks good any way you turn him,” Royal famously quipped.
Steele High School coach David Saenz could say the same about Wyatt Begeal, a senior who has been the Knights’ starting quarterback since the seventh game of his freshman season.
Begeal is the total package.
“With the way he runs the offense, it’s like having a coach on the field,” Saenz said Tuesday.
Begeal, who has committed to Arkansas State, has passed for 5,585 yards and 46 touchdowns and rushed for 1,119 yards and 20 more TDs since his breakout freshman season.
“He’s a technician and a student of the game,” Saenz said. “When it comes to being a quarterback, from his feet to his release, he’s always working on that stuff to get better. His confidence and his understanding of our offense has gotten better every year. We’re expecting great things from Wyatt and the rest of the team as well.”
Begeal is not only one of the top high school football players in Greater San Antonio, he is an exemplary student and outstanding leader on and off the field. Begeal will start his senior year with a 4.0 grade-point average and ranked 63rd in a class of 630.
“I approach the classroom with the same mindset I have in football,” said Begeal, who is 5-foot-11 and 189 pounds. “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”
Saenz and Steve Driffill, Steele’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, praised Begeal for the qualities that set him apart.
“He’s just a great person,” Saenz said. “His parents have done a great job of raising him. He leads by example, not only on the field, but in the classroom, in the community. He’s the first one there, the last one to leave. You hear nothing but great things from his teachers and the administration.
“Every time you see him, he’s always positive, always has a smile on his face, always upbeat. That’s something that’s unique about him. We saw that when he was in middle school. He always had that upbeat mentality and attitude, and it continues to this day.”
As Begeal’s position coach, Driffill has developed a close bond with him since those early days in 2017.
“Since he came in as a freshman, he’s always been ahead of his age at the quarterback position,” Driffill said. “He’s a fast learner. He asks questions. He picks up things. For the most part, we do a lot on offense. We’re kind of multiple.
“That was a big jump for him, coming from the eighth grade to his freshman year on the varsity. But his ability to pick up and move forward has always been good. He’s a natural leader for us. Wyatt does a great job of teaching our offense to the younger guys, and he makes everybody else around him better.”
Begeal’s competitive ferocity and work ethic are also through the roof, Driffill said.
“At times, we have to kick him out of the weight room after we watch the game film from Friday night on Saturdays during the season,” Driffill said. “He’ll be in there doing power-cleans on Saturday. That’s just how he is. He’ll outwork you. That’s one of his many good qualities. He loves the challenge."
“He loves to compete against others, but he loves competing against himself. You look at him from his freshman year and how he how’s moved forward, and that tells you not only how smart he is, but the physical tools that he has and how he’s progressed to get better.”
Begeal won his first seven games as a starter before Steele lost to Austin Westlake in the Class 6A Division II state quarterfinals in 2017. He has gone 23-8 as the Knight’s No. 1 quarterback, including his 7-1 run as a freshman.
Steele made the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season last year, falling to Westlake in the first round and finishing 8-3. The Knights missed the playoffs in their first season (2006), but have advanced every year since then.
Although they return only two other offensive starters besides Begeal – senior wide receiver Rhenden Lopez and senior tight end Mason Martinez – the Knights are expected to continue their postseason streak this year.
“I think the one word to summarize our offense is ‘opportunity,’” Begeal said. “We have a lot of positions open. I think this is a great opportunity for people who either haven’t seen the field as much as they want to, or young guys coming up.
“Whether they be sophomores or incoming juniors, this is a great opportunity for them to step up and really put themselves out there and play some big-time ball. I mean, it’s Texas high school football, so the young guys are going to get thrown in the fire early. It’s a good opportunity for them to get ahead of the game.”
Begeal and his teammates started strength and conditioning workouts last Monday, June 8. It was the first time they had been on campus since the coronavirus pandemic closed schools throughout the country in mid-March.
The Knights had worked out on their own and kept in touch with their coaches through Zoom conferences, phone calls and text messages.
“There was nowhere around it,” Begeal said of the pandemic. “I think the first place that my mind went to was, ‘How do I turn this into a positive? There’s a lot of negative going on, but I need to keep improving.' I just wanted to shine the light, be positive, and make something out of it instead of sitting down and using it as an excuse, ‘Hey, I can’t work out.’"
"I wanted to make sure I was going to be the hardest worker. I was going to hop on the Zoom call and watch film. I was doing to knock out all my homework early in the week, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it later. I used social media as a platform to try to keep my team motivated. We challenged each other.”
Steele kicks off its season against Hendrickson on Aug. 27 in Pflugerville.
"We're going to have a season," Begeal said. "I think that this season is going to be extremely interesting because the people who have been working, it's going to show even more in than in the past when everybody had an off-season.
"We didn't have spring ball or mat drills in 2020. We lifted a few weights, but after the pandemic, we weren't allowed on campus. It's going to really show who put in the work on their own time, and who made a positive out of it."
The Steele Knights needn't worry about their quarterback. He relishes the game within the game and embraces the grind.
"I'm in love with the process," Begeal said. "I always have been. I always will, whether it's football, whether it's a business, whatever it is. I enjoy working every day and knowing in my mind that there's a goal that someday I'm going to reach. That's just how I go about it. It's not work to me."
It's no wonder why Saenz and Driffill can go on and on about Begeal.