Giants tackle Will Beatty (65), a York High grad, blocks for Ahmad Bradshaw (44) as Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) closes in during a recent game.
Giants tackle Will Beatty (65), a York High grad, blocks for Ahmad Bradshaw (44) as Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) closes in during a recent game. Beatty has battled back from injuries to excel. (File photo)

For Will Beatty, 2012 is his year. He knows it. He's prepared for it. He's waited long enough.

But then again, 2011 was going to be his year, too.

Drafted by the New York Giants in the second round of the 2009 draft as their left tackle of the future, the York High graduate was thought to be somewhat green coming out of the University of Connecticut, where he was coached by Susquehannock High School graduate Randy Edsall.

But the 6-foot, 6-inch, 319-pound Beatty worked diligently, applying himself in the classroom and on the practice field, and in 2011 was rewarded for his hard work when the team announced that he would be the starting left tackle for the Giants.

This season, Will Beatty has often graded out as the Giants top-rated offensive lineman on game day.
This season, Will Beatty has often graded out as the Giants top-rated offensive lineman on game day. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

Earlier that summer Beatty had become engaged to Rebecca Helwig. The couple met while both were students at UConn and wedding plans were underway for the week after the Super Bowl.

And in his very limited spare time, Beatty formed The William Beatty Apparel Company and was busily working with a seamstress charged with turning Beatty's fashion concepts into reality.

The stars were aligned in his favor.

Or so it seemed.

Despite multiple changes to the offensive line, which seriously impacted the line's chemistry, Beatty excelled in the first 10 games.

Eye woes: It was then that his golden year went awry.

Following a game against Philadelphia on Nov. 20, Beatty told his coach that he was experiencing difficulty seeing out of his right eye and was immediately rushed to an eye specialist.

"The specialist told me the retina was detaching and he needed to operate right away, so on Thanksgiving morning I had surgery," Beatty said.

Beatty admitted that he was ill prepared for the surgery and its consequences.

York High grad Will Beatty has recovered from eye surgery and back troubles to excel as a member of the New York Giants offensive line. He ll try to
York High grad Will Beatty has recovered from eye surgery and back troubles to excel as a member of the New York Giants offensive line. He ll try to continue that trend this Sunday night when the Giants play host to the Packers. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

"It was so quick that I didn't have time to prepare myself for not being able to see out of my right eye," Beatty said. "My family had to give me instructions to watch for steps and not to bump into things. It's difficult to be dependent on someone else."

Though the surgery was successful, it was clear that Beatty would be unable to play the rest of the season and he was placed on injured reserve.

That too came as a shock to Beatty.

"That was my first year really starting and owning the left tackle position and then ... being out for the season just kind of snuck up on me," Beatty admitted.

Missing the Super Bowl: When the Giants won the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 against the New England Patriots, their victory was celebrated and at the same time lamented by Beatty.

Pat Flaherty, right, the offensive line coach for the Giants and a Delone Catholic High School graduate, works with Beatty during practice.
Pat Flaherty, right, the offensive line coach for the Giants and a Delone Catholic High School graduate, works with Beatty during practice. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

"I haven't been in a playoff game yet," Beatty said wistfully. "The Giants were in the playoffs and Super Bowl and I wasn't participating. I was happy for the team but I wanted to be out there contributing. It was a feeling of joy but also of sadness."

But the ever-resilient Beatty turned his considerable talents to his rehabilitation and when the 2012 training camp opened in Albany, N.Y., the newly married Beatty was happy, healthy and ready to resume playing the game he loved.

"My eye is fine and will be 100 percent," Beatty said. "I need to wear a tinted shield because it's still healing but I don't have to worry about it anymore. I'm free to go out and have fun."

And Beatty did go out and have fun.

Briefly.

Back injury: Only a few days after training camp opened, Beatty's back tightened up and he was held out of practice for what everyone expected to be a day or two. But when training camp ended and the season began against Dallas, Beatty was still only able to practice in limited fashion.

Once again, he had to watch someone else play his position for the first two weeks of the season.

But finally back on the field and once more starting, Beatty is more determined than ever that this year is his year to excel. He listens carefully in the classroom and takes his coaches comments to heart. One of those coaches is Pat Flaherty -- the offensive line coach for the Giants and a Delone Catholic High School graduate.

"As an offensive line, your momentum is keeping the quarterback clean, opening up pockets in the run game so the running back has a crease," Beatty said. "That's your momentum, driving the ball down the field extending the drive. That's your offensive momentum.

"All coach is harping on is offense, 11 as one. We're a unit. Everybody has to flow together and when you flow together, you see how plays develop. ... So it's that pride in your fellow teammate as we're pulling together, we're working as a unit."

Grading out well: This season Beatty has often graded out as the Giants' top-rated offensive lineman on game day. He'll try to continue that trend this Sunday night when the Giants (6-4) play host to the Green Bay Packers (7-3) in a key National Football Conference battle. But still, he is taking nothing for granted.

"I was always a pass blocker. I've always enjoyed the one-on-one competition with a fast edge rusher. That's where you see what you're made of," Beatty said. "Run blocking is more of a right tackle thing but we're trying to be able to run block and pass protect well. So, I'm still working on improving my run blocking as well as improving in the pass game.

"The minute you think you've got it and say, 'I'm the best left tackle in the league,' someone will study you, find a weakness and exploit it the next week."

"I have no Pro Bowl next to my name but I am going up against two Pro Bowlers in practices (Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora) and you can't get any better practice than that."

Now into mid-November, all signs indicate that Beatty is correct and that this year, 2012, is finally his long-awaited breakout year.

The year Will Beatty hopes to join the ranks of top left tackles in the NFL.

-- Reach Gail Bahr at sports@yorkdispatch.com.