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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Overlooked, undersized Tevis making his mark at Arizona

Colin Prenger/Arizona Daily Wildcat Defensive player Jared Tevis, No. 38, tackles Toledo’s quarterback during Saturdays 24-17 overtime win.

Jared Tevis has been overlooked his whole life, probably because of his short stature. A 5-foot-10, 197-pound safety, he doesn’t really have the ideal size for a position that requires such physicality.

But tackling people much larger than him has never been a problem, as he proved in recording 12 tackles in the Wildcats’ season opening win against Toledo. In fact, it’s something he’s been practicing his whole life.

Aaron Tevis, his brother, was a linebacker at Boise State and stands at 6-foot-3, 234 pounds.

“He bullied me a little bit,” Tevis said, laughing. “He wouldn’t push me too much because I had a little bit of a temper problem, but me and him were always competing. Even though he was usually winning we were always competing and I think that just made me tougher.”

That relationship made Tevis tougher; maybe even a better football player, but it still didn’t make him any taller.

After a successful career at Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, Tevis had zero scholarship offers from Divison I schools, which surprised sophomore running back Ka’Deem Carey.

“I was really surprised,” said Carey, who played with Tevis at Canyon del Oro. “Playing in Tucson you don’t really get that much hype, you gotta really work and stand out that much more, which I thought he did.”

In addition to his short stature, Tevis attributed the lack of attention to not breaking out as a football player until his senior year of high school, when he recorded 115 tackles, eight interceptions, three sacks and 11 combined touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams.

Schools from Division II and III finally came knocking on his door, but Tevis still didn’t want to answer. He was going to play at the school he grew up watching, the one he had always dreamed of playing for.

“I never really gave them much thought,” Tevis said. “I had my mind set up on Arizona and I wanted to be on the big stage and prove what I could do.”

He got his wish, albeit without a scholarship.

While recruiting other players at Canyon del Oro, Stoops noticed Tevis. After talking with him and a UA recruiting coordinator, Stoops revealed he wanted Tevis to walk on.

“I told them that’s what I wanted to do,” Tevis said.

He had to prove himself. Prove to Stoops and his coaching staff that he belonged, that size doesn’t matter and that he deserved a scholarship. But before he was able to do that, the coaching staff told him that he’d been redshirted.

“That redshirt year it was overwhelming coming out as a freshman,” Tevis said. “I wasn’t even on the field and that’s what hurt the most.”

Tevis bided his time, and last year he got a chance to finally start proving to Stoops that he deserved to get on the field. As a backup and contributor on special teams, Tevis recorded 12 tackles in as many games. Then Stoops was fired mid-season and an entirely new coaching staff was brought into the fold. In the spring, Tevis was going to have to prove himself all over again.

Mission accomplished.

“I thought he was one of our best kids when I first got here,” said assistant head coach Tony Gibson, who is in charge of safeties. “I was kind of shocked that he wasn’t a scholarship player.

“Not only did he deserve it but he earned it. He showed every day in practice. When there was a big hit, it was him.”

A few weeks after spring practices ended in early May, Rodriguez held individual meetings with every player on the roster. He had some good news for Tevis.

“When I went in there he just talked to me and he said he was gonna offer me a scholarship,” Tevis said. “I was ecstatic. I’ve been waiting for it, I’ve been praying for it and it finally happened, so it was a blessed feeling.”

“He showed us a lot, he’s tough guy,” Rodriguez added.

The first person he called after hearing the news?

“I called my brother up and let him know. He was proud of me, and I knew he would be,” Tevis said.

Now fully entrenched as the Wildcats’ starting safety, Tevis is making an impact. It was only one game, but he fully expects to continue as a key cog in Arizona’s defense.

“Yeah, I mean I knew I was gonna come out here and make an impact,” Tevis said after playing every one of 94 defensive plays against Toledo. “I have the internal desire to go harder — that extra set, that extra rep — and just prove myself.”

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