ORONO — Nigel Beckford doesn’t exactly fit in in Vacationland.

The Maine tailback’s offseason consisted of one weekend trip home to Bridgeport, Connecticut, two summer classes and a whole lot of sweating. He was adding muscle while you were sampling lobster, pounding pavement while you were lolling by the ocean.

“I just know what I’ve got to get done. This is all I want,” Beckford said last week, on campus while most of his teammates took one last trip home before summer practices begin Monday. “Every summer since I started playing football, it’s been all football. I don’t mind that. I don’t go on vacations or any of that other stuff.”

Beckford begins his sophomore season atop the depth chart for the Black Bears. And it’s lonely at the top. Career-ending injuries to Nigel Jones and Isaiah Jones, and the transfer of Jerickson Fedrick, have left Beckford as the lone experienced tailback.

He entered last August as a little-known walk-on. This August he figures to be as vital as any player to Maine’s fortunes when the season begins Sept. 5.

Beckford knows this. And he embraces it with a quiet confidence.

“I’ve been to camps with top running backs, top players, and it’s like there’s no difference. It’s just the opportunity they got,” said Beckford, who earned a scholarship by leading Maine in rushing with 471 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman. “Maine gave me the opportunity so I just came in and did what I would have done anywhere I went.

“I think I just showed them that I’m easily coachable, I could learn the playbook. Some games, like Towson and Elon, they were really feeding me the ball, just seeing if I was an every-play back. They could see a future in me being that back.”

It was a bumpy debut for Beckford, who stands 5-foot-9 and is a chiseled 195 pounds. He wound up at Maine after other schools shied away when his senior season at Episcopal prep school in Virginia was cut in half by injury. He was impressive enough in the heat of August’s training camp to work his way into the team’s plans, and opened eyes with 45 yards on six carries in the second game of the season, at Bryant. Injuries to the Joneses forced him into a bigger role, and he responded with two touchdowns at Towson, and 100-yard games against Rhode Island and Elon.

But there were also games like Stony Brook, when he carried just four times for 9 yards. Beckford said it was a matter of learning to be patient. His offensive coordinator, Kevin Bourgoin, sensed difficulties in picking up the team’s more sophisticated passing offense, meaning Beckford had to be taken out in certain situations. Head coach Jack Cosgrove said it was conditioning and myriad minor injuries that kept Beckford from being a weekly contributor on offense.

“If he wants to be an all-conference player here, he’s got to go from being a guy that can play 30-40 reps a game to maybe 50-60. In order to do that, you’ve got to spend a lot of time in the weight room working on getting stronger, bigger, more endurance and conditioning to avoid the little injuries that pop up when you’re getting that many carries. There were times last year when he couldn’t finish games for us,” Bourgoin said.

“When we would throw the football on certain plays, we’d take him out and put someone else in. Well, I’d like to not have to do that. If he can play all four downs, that makes us harder to defend. We’re not tipping our hand.”

Beckford vows to put all those issues in the past. And he’ll need to. Behind him on the depth chart are junior Sacoy Malone, who appeared in only two games last season, and senior Darius Benders, who never carried the ball. Freshman Terry Loper enters camp with a great deal of hype but is obviously untested.

“I want to definitely be an every-down back. I don’t want there to be any doubt in the coaches’ minds about that,” Beckford said. “I want two touchdowns every game. I want to make an impact; I want to help the team.”

To that end he’s been a fixture in the weight room, which is his normal practice, easily squatting 500 pounds now, 50 more than a year ago, he said. But he’s also paying more attention to stretching properly, even dabbling in yoga, so he can become more flexible. He’s an avid runner and wants to improve his breakaway speed. And he’s been working with quarterbacks Dan Collins and Drew Belcher in seven-on-seven drills, then staying after to work some more.

“I would think that he’s helped himself in a lot of ways through his work ethic and his commitment this offseason,” Cosgrove said. “He didn’t have any major injuries but he had enough minor ones for them to be a major pain. He’ll be further along that way in the health department.”

Beckford also said he’s more in sync with an offensive line that returns intact.

“I’m just getting used to their speed, in a way. Obviously I can’t be running full speed off the bat unless it’s a dive play or something,” Beckford said. “You’ve got to let all the pieces get to where they need to, have everything be in motion. It’s my job to see that and let that happen, and react off that. That’s what I have to get better at.

“I want to be able to see the stuff that I miss when I’m watching video. I think if I was more patient I would be able to see those on the field. I just don’t want there to ever be a mistake.”

NOTES: Maine enters camp with a big void at safety after the graduations of Khari Al-Mateen and Patrick Pascal. The urgency to find replacements was exacerbated when Davonte Burke injured his knee in the summer, which will cost him the 2015 season. Darrius Hart saw a great deal of action as a freshman, and Spencer Carey of Fairfield also figures to be in the mix. Cosgrove even said cornerback Sherrod Baltimore might be moved to shore up what has become a position of need. … Special-teams standout Matthew LeBlanc is also done for the season with an injury. The senior’s career is likely over. … Junior tight ends Jeremy Salmon and Max Andrews will be limited by injuries as camp begins and probably will miss the opening games of the season. Cosgrove said he hopes to get both back in September.