MARYVILLE, Mo. — Collin Bevins’ college football career finally took hold Thursday night, via a detour from Ames.
Bevins, all-state defensive lineman for Creston/Orient-Macksburg and a 2012 graduate of CHS, redshirted his freshman year at Iowa State University.
While slated for a regular role in the interior of the defensive line this season for the Cyclones, Bevins decided last summer to leave the ISU program and get a new start.
He found comfort in Division II national power Northwest Missouri State, where former Panther Dane Wardenburg built a career as a player and graduate assistant coach, and 2013 CHS all-state graduate Keaton Hulett had earlier chosen to extend his own football career.
It wasn’t exactly Jack Trice Stadium, but a lively atmosphere nonetheless, as Bevins played strong side defensive end in a reserve role in a 45-24 Northwest victory over Saginaw Valley State in front of 6,821 fans at Bearcat Stadium.
Bevins was credited with one tackle in the game. His plays were limited because of missed practice time from an elbow injury suffered nearly four weeks ago. He didn’t return to practice until Sunday.
During Thursday’s game, Bevins wore a protective brace around his left elbow, after suffering a strained UCL (ulnar collateral ligament).
“I was grabbing a guy’s jersey and as he went to get off me for a screen, I kind of hyper-extended my elbow,” said the 6-6, 285-pound redshirt freshman.
For now, Bevins is sharing time at strong side end with 6-3, 240-pound senior Matt Meinert of Easton, Kan., and 6-2, 240-pound junior Jordan Chrisman of Blue Springs, Mo., who is also a transfer from Central Arkansas.
“I had a couple of missed assignments tonight,” Bevins said, “but that comes with not practicing as much as I wanted the past couple of weeks.”
Hulett, meanwhile, is working at weak side defensive end.
“Hulett is doing a great job,” Bevins said. “I’ve been impressed on how quickly he’s picked things up.”
Thursday’s season opener was a battle of nationally ranked teams. The No. 22 Cardinals struck first with a field goal, but the No. 3 Bearcats responded with a 7-yard touchdown from senior running back Billy Creason, and dominated most of the way in the 21-point victory.
There were several southwest Iowa contributions to the winning effort.
Middle linebacker D.J. Gnader of Lewis Central, a 6-2, 225-pound junior, had six total tackles including two solo stops. His backup was 6-2, 225-pound junior Chet Meneely of Atlantic.
This year, 240-pound senior Bryant Hummel of Clarinda has moved from fullback to defensive tackle. Hummel was credited with one tackle and showed good penetration on his pass rush Thursday.
Other members of the squad dressed for Thursday’s game included sophomore wide receiver Preston Pedersen of Central Decatur, junior safety Denver Lohnes of Lewis Central, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Cass Weitl of Carroll Kuemper and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Brandon Sleep of Bedford.
Meanwhile, don’t look for Bevins to announce another transfer. He said the football program, Northwest Missouri State’s campus and the town of Maryville create a better fit.
“It’s a lot smaller, and it feels good to me,” Bevins said. “I’m not a fan of bigger towns or any of that. It’s just more of a family atmosphere here, as you can see, with everyone’s family out here (on the field) after the game. I really didn’t feel that at Iowa State. It felt like you’re just playing for yourself, and your own future. It wasn’t the same feeling of playing for the guys around you, like we have here.”
Northwest will take on Central Missouri next week, which dropped its season opener against Missouri Western Thursday 26-23. Game time is 6 p.m. Sept. 14 at Bearcat Stadium.