“Returning special teams starter and contender for a role at safety … Lettered as a true freshman walk-on in 2011 on the kick coverage units plus some spot duty in the secondary … Finished with 12 tackles, among best on special teams … Had season- and career-high three tackles against USC and Louisiana with two against Bruins.” (Courtesy of Arizona Athletics)
Tevis stands at 5’10” and weighs 197lbs.
You might be asking: so what?
Well, for one thing, Tevis started at safety last Saturday against Toledo. For another, he made 12 tackles, including 8 that he made by his lonesome–that’s the same amount of tackles he had for an entire season last year and one less than veteran linebacker Jake Fischer, who led the defense in tackles against Toledo with 13.
But that’s not all. As a defensive back, Tevis also broke up two passes and and deflected two passes. Translation: at 5’10” and 197lbs, this guy is a beast. He’s all over the place and looks to be a serious producer for the Arizona defense this year.
So now that we’ve cleared that up, you might be wondering: Where was this guy last year? Why was he limited by Mike Stoops to primarily playing a role on special teams?
This is a good question. Last year’s defense was absolutely abysmal, and it wouldn’t have hurt to try different things and get a little experimental. After watching Tevis’s performance last Saturday, it is more than clear he could have hung with the starters of last year’s defense. But there are two possible answers. First, it is starting to appear that Stoops’ stubborn coaching style created problems with overlooking talent where it belonged and desperately clinging on to veteran favorites instead (See Exhibit 1: Leaving kicker Alex Zendejas in for over half the season when it later became clear that John Bonano was the far better choice).
Second, it is starting to appear that RichRod knows where talent belongs, plays no favorites and knows exactly what he’s doing. I don’t think it came by a pure stroke of luck that Tevis found himself in the starting lineup last Saturday. Likewise, I don’t find it coincidental that RichRod has decided to try Taimi Tutogi out on the defensive side of the ball or take advantage of Marquis Flowers’ toughness by moving him from safety to linebacker–Flowers had 10 tackles (2.5 for a loss) and 1.5 sacks, or arguably one of the top three games of his career.
So who is Jared Tevis? A product of RichRod, and I have a feeling that there are more to come.