Darrell Bevell and the 2011 list of Mormons in the NFL

Published: Thursday, Sept. 8 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

“Wisconsin was short on quarterbacks … I was impressed with what I saw and heard,” Bevell said. “The chance to play right away was important to me. Perhaps because I was older, but more because I hadn’t played for so long and I was anxious to get out and see what I could do.”

Bevell became the starter in the second game of the 1992 season, which seemed fitting after being injured two games into his senior year in high school. Bevell also became the only married player on the team when he wed the former Tammy Barlow of Orem, Utah, in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple.

Alvarez knew Bevell had an upside, thanks to his friend Rick Majerus, then Utah’s basketball coach.

“He told me that you can always notice great improvement between the first and second year with Mormon players who have been on a mission,” Alvarez told the Los Angeles Times.

He was right.

Bevell went on to become a four-year starter and helped transform Wisconsin from a struggling program into a national power. Bevell led the Badgers to an impressive 10-1-1 record in 1993, a share of the Big Ten title and the school’s first Rose Bowl invitation since 1963. His 67.8 percent completion mark set that year still stands as a conference record.

Wisconsin ended the season by defeating UCLA, 21-16, in the 1994 Rose Bowl. Bevell’s stats weren’t spectacular in the big game — 10 of 20 for 96 yards — but he made several clutch plays. The most significant came with the Badgers clinging to a 14-10 lead in the fourth quarter. On second-and-eight from the UCLA 21, Bevell dropped back to pass, then saw an opening and scrambled 21 yards down the left sideline for the game-winning touchdown. Running was the last way Bevell expected to help his team win.

“After I got into the end zone, I was laughing. My teammates were laughing,” Bevell told the LDS Church News in 1994. “It was one of the greatest moments in my life.”

After guiding the Badgers to a win over Duke in the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl, Bevell failed to make an NFL team as an undrafted free agent. But he still loved football and found a coaching job at Westmar University in Le Mars, Iowa, in 1996. A 2010 article in the Sioux City Journal describes Bevell’s first coaching gig.

According to his bio, Bevell moved to Iowa State as a graduate assistant in 1997 and continued on to the University of Connecticut for two seasons (1998-99) as a wide receivers coach.

From UConn, Bevell jumped to the NFL and the Green Bay Packers, where he spent three years as quarterback coach and worked with Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck.

When Childress was hired as Minnesota’s head coach in 2006, he asked Bevell to be his offensive coordinator. Bevell accepted.

Following the 2010 season, Bevell, now 41, was asked by coach Pete Carroll to come to Seattle and oversee the offense. In an article in the Olympian, Carroll is pleased with his new offensive coordinator.

“Darrell is an accomplished play caller,” Carroll told the Olympian. “He owns the throwing game that we’re working with, he totally understands the concepts and the principles and the calling of our run game. … He’s a young, bright coach that’s going to be a head coach someday. He’s just got his act together, and he gets it. We’re really lucky to have him.”

Bevell credits his NFL success to Childress, the coach who believed in him as a high school recruit in Arizona.

“I learned a lot from him, and it goes all the way back from college. He taught me the game from the quarterback perspective.”

Mormons in the NFL

Brandon Bair, DL, Chiefs, Oregon

John Beck, QB, Redskins, BYU

Austin Collie, WR, Colts, BYU

Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins, Utah State

*Christian Cox, LB, Patriots, Utah

*Kevin Curtis, WR, Titans, Utah State

Stewart Bradley, LB, Cardinals, Nebraska

John Denney, LS, Dolphins, BYU

Jonathan Fanene, DL, Bengals, Utah

*Max Hall, QB, Cardinals, BYU

Todd Heap, TE, Cardinals, Arizona State

Chris Hoke, DL, Steelers, BYU

Bryan Kehl, LB, Rams, BYU

Brett Keisel, DL, Steelers, BYU

Paul Kruger, DL, Ravens, Utah

Spencer Larsen, FB, Broncos, Arizona

Deuce Lutui, OL, Cardinals, Southern California

Fili Moala, DL, Colts, Southern California

*Tony Moeaki, TE, Chiefs, Iowa

Haloti Ngata, DL, Ravens, Oregon

Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens, BYU

Brady Poppinga, LB, Rams, BYU

Sione Pouha, DT, Jets, Utah

Samson Satele, C, Raiders, Hawaii

Vic So’oto, LB, Packers, BYU

Will Tukuafu, DT, 49ers, Oregon

#Harvey Unga, RB, Bears, BYU

Eric Weddle, DB, Chargers, Utah

*Injured reserve

#Exempt status

Practice squad players

Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings, Utah

Stanley Havili, RB, Eagles, USC

Garrett Mills, TE, Patriots, Tulsa

Dallas Reynolds, OL, Eagles, BYU

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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