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How unheralded BYU defensive back Beau Tanner became a client of powerful NFL agent Leigh Steinberg

Senior who switched from offense to defense midway through his career in Provo caught agency’s attention with his blazing speed, family ties

BYU wide receiver Beau Tanner smiles after catching a pass during the team’s scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. Tanner switched to defensive back midway through his career and now hopes to be drafted into the NFL.
BYU wide receiver Beau Tanner smiles after catching a pass during the team’s scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. Tanner switched to defensive back midway through his career and now hopes to be drafted into the NFL.
Jaren Wilkey, BYU

PROVO — Famed agent Leigh Steinberg, known locally because he once represented NFL Hall of Famer and former BYU Cougars quarterback Steve Young, has been on a remarkable comeback the past few years after his life bottomed out due to alcoholism and a bankruptcy.

Steinberg, whom the movie “Jerry Maguire” was patterned after, is Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes’ agent, and will likely have two clients selected in the first round of Thursday night’s NFL draft.

BYU safety Beau Tanner is not one of them.

Yet, Tanner, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound speedster who moved from receiver to defensive back midway through his career in Provo, is also on the client list of Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, right there with a couple guys from Alabama you’ve probably heard of: surefire first-round draft picks Tua Tagovailoa and Jerry Jeudy.

How did that happen?

Although interest in Tanner has grown lately because of a blazing 4.3 time in the 40-yard dash he reportedly ran under the tutelage of former 100-meters world-record holder Maurice Greene in a makeshift Pro Day in Arizona last month, he’s not considered a likely free-agent signee, let alone a draft pick.

Turns out that Steinberg has known Beau’s father “from the Steve Young days,” according to Steinberg’s own post on Instagram in January, and loves the Tanner family of Gilbert, Arizona.

“We have some common connections,” Beau Tanner said, noting that Leigh’s son, Matt, has been the agency’s point man in representing him. “Obviously, they have bigger priorities than me, but I have always felt comfortable with them and feel super fortunate to be with them.”

Leigh Steinberg, 71, who launched his newest agency in 2013 with the help of chief operating officer Chris Cabott, also represents former BYU standout running back Jamaal Williams of the Green Bay Packers.

“I was talking to a couple of agents toward the end of the season and I first initially heard from Matt,” Tanner said. “Apparently they did some research and kinda found out what the interest level was for me from some (NFL) teams and asked to represent me.”

He’s in some heady company, considering Steinberg has also represented NFL Hall of Famers such as Troy Aikman, Howie Long, Derrick Thomas and Bruce Smith.

Tanner believes he’s got what it takes to stick in the pros: speed.

“After working the past few months with (Greene), I am faster than ever,” he said.

Tanner moved back to Arizona immediately after BYU’s 38-34 loss to Hawaii in the bowl game to train for the draft. He participated in the Gridiron Showcase, a lesser-known all-star game for college seniors, in January. He plans to finish up his degree in sociology next winter, even if he makes the NFL.

Does he have a shot to get drafted?

“I have heard a mixture of things,” Tanner said. “I have definitely talked to a lot of teams, so I know that whatever happens I am going to get a shot. There are definitely guys from a lot of different organizations who have shown me support throughout the process.”

Draft experts say there are more unknowns about this particular draft than ever, due to in-person visits and pro days being canceled.

“I don’t know what is going to happen,” Tanner said. “It has been hard. I had several 30-man visits scheduled to go see different teams, and those got canceled. I’m just hoping for the best. That’s all I can do.”

Not having a traditional Pro Day in Provo due to the COVID-19 spread “was a bummer,” he said, “but I’ve continued to improve, especially with my technique.”

Having one of the most well-known agents in pro sports history doesn’t hurt, either.