Friday, December 13, 2002
Where Are They Now? Wisconsin QB Darrell Bevell
By Will Weiss
Darrell Bevell always dreamed about playing in the National Football League.
After rewriting Wisconsin's record book and etching his name among the elite quarterbacks in Big Ten history, Bevell appeared to be on his way. But in April 1995, the NFL passed on the 25-year-old quarterback.
"It was devastating to me," Bevell said. "It was something that I worked very hard for quite a few years. It was a goal that I set, and it didn't happen. I just didn't understand the whole deal, and I still don't."
From humble beginnings in Scottsdale, Ariz., Bevell honed his skills. After graduating high school in 1988, Bevell redshirted at Northern Arizona University, and then embarked upon a two-year Mormon mission in Cleveland.
"It helped me mentally," Bevell said. "You learn to overcome adversity, to deal with rejection. You have people who sic their dogs on you, pull guns on you at the door -- there are a lot of tough experiences you have that help you grow up."
After his mission, he returned home to Scottsdale, looking to play football again. Two of his coaches at Northern Arizona landed at Wisconsin, one of them being quarterbacks coach Brad Childress.
"Quarterback was the position they were looking for at Wisconsin," Bevell said. "I was recruited by the University of Utah, Northern Arizona -- I was probably more highly recruited after my five years of not playing than out of high school."
Bevell committed to Wisconsin, and became the Badgers' starter in 1992.
Bevell's breakthrough year was in 1993, when he established school records with 2,390 passing yards and 19 touchdowns, leading the Badgers to a 10-1-1 record and a Rose Bowl victory.
"To be able to bring them their first Rose Bowl and their first Rose Bowl win is something that I'll always treasure," Bevell said.
The following year, Bevell led the Badgers to the Hall of Fame Bowl and its second consecutive bowl victory.
"I had a great experience at Wisconsin," Bevell said. "There are things I'll remember for a long time."
After the shock of not being drafted dissipated, Bevell continued to chase his NFL dream. He tried out with the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Raiders, but there were no takers.
"I thought it went well for me, but there are a lot more situations going on in different places than you know," Bevell said.
Five years later, Bevell has reached the NFL, just not in the capacity he had originally envisioned. The 1993 All-Big Ten selection is now a member of the Green Bay Packers coaching staff, not far from where he played his college football in Madison.
As an assistant coach for quality control, Bevell is responsible for breaking down film, scouting opposing teams' defenses, and compiling information for playbooks to give to the coordinators.
"It's a lot of responsibility, a lot of hours," Bevell said. "I get everything together so the coaches can focus on making the game plan and be more efficient."
He came to the Packers after bouncing around the college coaching ranks for the previous four years. After the two failed attempts at NFL mini-camps, the decision of what to do next was a difficult one for Bevell.
"When that ended, I was already married with a little girl, so there were other things I needed to think about," Bevell said. "I had to re-evaluate and do that in a quick manner, and then find a way to be able to make a living and take care of my family."
The son of a high school football coach in Arizona, Bevell wanted to remain in football in some capacity. With his playing days apparently over, he chose coaching.
"I knew I still loved the game and it was something I wanted to do," Bevell said. "I wanted to stay close to it."
His coaching career began immediately, at now defunct Westmar University, a NAIA school in Le Mars, Iowa, where he was an assistant. From there it was a short trip to Ames, and a graduate assistant job at Iowa State. After a year in Ames, Bevell took a position as wide receivers coach at the University of Connecticut, spending his first year under Skip Holtz, now the offensive coordinator at South Carolina.
Now at age 30, Bevell does not know whether he wants to return to playing or continue coaching.
"At one time playing mattered, but I don't think it matters now," Bevell said. "You have to work your way up in coaching, but I've reached a point where if I turned back now and did something else, I don't know whether it would hurt me more or help me more."
For now, Bevell, his wife and two daughters are content in Green Bay, where many people recognize him from his playing days in Madison.
"I'm very happy with where I am," Bevell said. "I mean, how lucky am I to have ended back in the same state where I played?"
Very lucky. If anyone asks, "Where is Darrell Bevell?" He's not too far from where he was.
Will Weiss is the assistant editor of BCSfootball.com.
|Darrell Bevell holds every career passing record at Wisconsin.|