Beau Stephens has been the center of attention in Blue Springs High School football since cracking the Suburban Big Six Conference powerhouse’s offensive line as a starter his sophomore year.

This season, the 6-foot-6, 320-pound senior is actually going to be the Wildcats center, along with playing on the defensive line.

Stephens, who has verbally committed to Iowa, is also getting his fair share of national attention, being recognized by Sports Illustrated as one of the publication’s All-America candidates.

"Actually, there’s a lot going on," Stephens said after a water-logged practice that was followed by an in-depth discussion with the Blue Springs coaching staff. "I’m really excited about playing center this year, because – like the position is called – you’re in the center of everything. I was right tackle last year, and playing center this year is really challenging – and I always like a challenge."

He showed off a couple of bumps and bruises on his right hand and a nasty looking cleat mark on his side and back.

"The bruises are on my snapping hand, and I’m getting used to them," he said, grinning. "I tackled a guy and his cleats raked across my side and back, so I’m betting that’s going to be a little bit sore, but it is so great to be back practicing real football.

"We can have contact at practice, and contact makes us a better team. We love to get after it out at practice and our new coach (David White) really gets after us.

"He’ll tear us down, then immediately build us back up. I’m really enjoying his coaching style and can see how he’s going to bring the best out of every player."

When asked about the Sports Illustrated accolades, Stephens quipped, "My mom told me about it and it was great, really cool. But she was upset because they called me ‘Beau Stephenson’ in the evaluation.

"I told her I had already committed to Iowa, so it was no big deal. No coach is going to come to Blue Springs looking for Beau Stephenson. At least, I hope they don’t."

Like everyone else on the planet, Stephens wonders what is going to happen this fall.

"I hope we have school and we play football and the other sports," he said. "I felt so bad for our girls (basketball team) that made it to the final four last year and didn’t get to play because of the pandemic.

"If we don’t play, I’ll be crushed because we have so many great guys on the team who may not have another chance to play football, and we’re all working so hard for Coach White and our other coaches.

"But at least I know I have college to look forward to, and going to Iowa is going to be a dream come true for me. But right now, all I’m thinking about and getting ready for is Wildcat football."