On the field, Utah offensive lineman Zane Beadles expects to give his teammates a lift in defending their Mountain West Conference title by living up to his all-MWC preseason billing. Off the field, he's working toward giving the people of New Orleans a lift.
Beadles, Utah's senior left tackle, is earning a degree in mechanical engineering. His senior class project is to build a wheelchair lift for the people of New Orleans.
Building codes in that area, which still is recovering from Hurricane Katrina, now call for houses in flood areas to be at least four feet off the ground.
Lifts and ramps that are available now are expensive, so Beadles and others involved in the project want to build a less expensive prototype.
"The idea is to make it out of parts that can be found anywhere so people can make them," Beadles said. "People could use it anywhere, but with all the homes in low-income areas in New Orleans, we thought it was good for there."
The project is a continuation of one started by other class engineers. Beadles hopes to have at least a prototype ready by the time he graduates in December.
Working on the project has been a little more meaningful to him after visiting New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.
"You look around there and you wonder, 'How can this happen?' " he said.
This project likely is just the first of many for the Hillcrest High grad. Beadles has had an interest in engineering ever since he saw a show on the Discovery Channel about defense weapons, and would like to design and build weapons.
First, though, he has to finish his career on the football field, one that is likely to last well past his time with the Utes.
After redshirting his freshman year, Beadles has steadily grown into one of the MWC's best offensive linemen. He earned first-team All-MWC honors in 2008 after leading the Utes with 40 knockdowns.
While his NFL evaluations weren't good enough to entice him to leave Utah as a junior, Beadles should be an early-round pick in the 2010 draft.
With the Utes, he is the standout player on an offensive line that also returns left guard Caleb Schlauderaff and center Zane Taylor.
"He is a smart guy who has really emerged as a leader this fall," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "He is definitely the leader on the offensive side of things."
Playing the leader role is something Beadles takes as seriously as his senior project and protecting his quarterback. Like other Utes, he is eager to prove Utah can put together back to back successful seasons.
"We don't look at it as topping last year because every year is different," he said. "But we have a great team and great talent and great leadership. The sky is the limit."
Zane Beadles is the leader of the Utes' offensive line:
|Left tackle||Zane Beadles||6-4/305||Sr.||Started his entire career|
|Left guard||Caleb Schlauderaff||6-4/300||Jr.||All-conference candidate|
|Center||Zane Taylor||6-2/300||Jr.||Honorable mention All-MWC|
|Right guard||Walter Watts||6-2/295||Jr.||Battling for starting role|
|Right tackle||Tony Bergstrom||6-6/300||So.||Played in 10 games in 2008|