Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most successful NFL receivers ever. After one wobbly season with the Browns, he returned to top form — until his recent injury. The team was staying competitive in a challenging AFC North, despite quarterback Baker Mayfield’s inconsistency. Much of this came down to OBJ’s athletic genius.
The superstar wide receiver’s NFL ascent was so explosive, he shook the league to its core. But it wasn’t a mystery to those in the know as early as his high school days. He came up under the watchful eyes of some of the biggest names in football: the Manning family.
Odell Beckham Jr. came up as an exceptional multi-sport athlete
OBJ’s all-around talent in the NFL doesn’t come from his time in football alone. He’s a big fan of bounce music and was in drumline throughout his youth. At Isidore Newman High School, he dove into every sport he could make time for. His official school profile reports that he was a letterman in baseball, track & field, and of course football.
Even in the context of football alone, the teenage Beckham spread out his skill set. Alongside his eventual specialty at WR, he also put in time at quarterback, running back, and cornerback. For some players, that approach to the game would spread them thin. Not so for OBJ, who seems to have only leveraged that experience toward a deeper understanding of the game.
Peyton, Cooper, and Eli Manning all witnessed Beckham’s rise
Beckham’s rise at Norman High wasn’t the first time it was obvious someone with NFL potential was in the building. A whole generation of the Manning family — Peyton, Eli, and Cooper — all developed at the same school. Their continued connections to the school meant that they got their eyes on OBJ before the rest of America did.
The NY Daily News reports that the Mannings still run an annual passing academy near the school each year. It’s attended primarily by Norman football players, and that included OBJ. When Eli arrived to run drills, he quickly zeroed in on OBJ. He had the young receiver run new routes first, every single time he introduced a new aspect to the program.
The two grew close and played together for the Giants. Their time together was defined by an aging Eli looking far better thanks to his young receiver. Once the QB made it clear that he was nearing the end of his career, Beckham was dealt to the Browns. The team made it clear: He was there only because Eli needed him.
Isidore Newman High School still produces football success stories
The legacy of OBJ’s high school continues to grow. The latest hyped-up prospect comes with a familiar playing style, and a familiar name to boot. It’s Cooper Manning’s son, Archie. And he’s already showing signs of fitting in perfectly with the weighty expectations of both his name and his school.
Archie’s going down a different path compared to his father, or OBJ. MaxPreps named him their 2019 National Freshman of the Year based on his dominance at quarterback. Consider his most recent performance, where he threw for 216 yards and four touchdowns while playing for just half the game.
The verdict is still out on whether the next OBJ or Cooper Manning will emerge from Newman. As far as a successor to Peyton Manning’s approach to the game, though, Archie so far has that on lock.