You think you're watching another 270-pound freshman defensive end at another monotonous preseason football practice.
While that may be true, when the subject is Creston's Collin Bevins, there's more than meets the eye.
Less than three months ago, that 270-pound defensive end was burning up the Drake Stadium track in the Class 3-A state 200-meter prelims, missing a spot in the finals by about half a second against competitors 60 to 100 pounds lighter.
Less than six months ago, he was pinning his fourth straight opponent in the state wrestling tournament, winning the Class 2-A 285-pound title to cap a 54-1 season that included a school-record 47 wins by fall.
And when Bevins arrived in Ames, Iowa, in early June to begin his Iowa State football career, he was 17 years old.
The young man Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads calls “a diamond in the rough” is The World-Herald's western Iowa athlete of the year for the 2011-12 school year.
Seeing a 6-foot-5 frame that could easily handle more weight, Iowa State coaches quickly put Bevins on a weight-gaining diet. Within four weeks, Bevins was up to 272, which “shocked” him. During a recent conversation, he said he was at 265, heavier than any of the six Cyclone defensive ends listed on the most recent depth chart.
“I don't think I've lost any speed or quickness,” he said.
Nonetheless, there's still a strong possibility that Bevins will redshirt given that he's still learning the system and turned 18 on June 16.
Either way, it's clear the Cyclones are excited about his potential. And it wouldn't be surprising to see him move inside to a tackle position.
“I think he's got a lot of growth potential in him,” Rhoads said. “I compare him to Jordan Carstens, who came into our program roughly the same size, but as a walk-on ended up in the National Football League. And I think Collin can be the same type of player.”
High praise, but Bevins is accustomed to it. Last spring, he wowed track coaches and fans with his blend of size and speed. At the Hawkeye Ten Conference meet, he won the shot put (50 feet, 9¼ inches) and nearly pulled off a double in the 200, settling for a close third (23.4) behind Harlan's Matt Evers and Joey Foss (both 23.3).
With his size, it was impossible for Bevins to get out of the blocks with the top sprinters. But then he would reach top speed, and start reeling them in.
“It was the most freakish thing I've ever seen,” Creston football coach Brian Morrison said. “Watching him compete in the shot put, then run a 200 with kids half his size. Just watching him come around that corner and the entire crowd, you could just see their jaws drop.”
The son of Jeff and Michelle Bevins grew up around sports. His father is the school's activities director and a longtime wrestling coach. Brother Jared is entering his junior year of football at Simpson College.
“Jared was always bigger, a little more physically mature,” Jeff Bevins said. “They had several battles in the backyard, but there was always respect there.”
In middle school, Collin Bevins' growth took off, his father said. As an eighth-grader, he made the varsity baseball team and competed well against a powerful Class 4-A Ankeny team. He started as a freshman and made second-team all-conference as a sophomore before giving up the sport in his final two years as summer football camps took priority.
Bevins' thirst for competition rarely was quenched. As a junior, he competed in track and soccer in the spring, starting on the pitch as a physical forward.
“He just enjoyed competing,” Morrison said.
That was never more apparent than in wrestling. He finished second at 215 pounds as a junior to Perry's Kane Seeley, another ISU football recruit. Bumping up to 285 pounds his senior season and often giving away 20 to 30 pounds, Bevins still pinned 85.5 percent of his opponents with his trademark cradle.
“We've never had anybody that dominated like that,” said Darrell Frain, the head wrestling coach and a football assistant.
During a recent break from preseason camp, Bevins, who finished with a 3.2 GPA, returned home for a few days and helped out at Creston's middle-school football camp. He's like a magnet when he gets a chance to work with the town's youth, Frain said.
“All the younger kids will jump on him,” Frain said. “He's just a great role model. I use Collin as an example all the time.”
It may not be this year, but Morrison thinks Bevins will do great things in Ames. Just as importantly, he said, he'll represent his community with class.
“Iowa State's getting a great player,” Morrison said. “He's truly exceptional in every aspect. He'll represent Creston, our football program and Iowa State, and he'll do an outstanding job there.”
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