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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    New walk-on QB has quite the experience on Mormon mission

    Walk-on quarterback Jimmy Bevell spins a football on his hand as he stands outside Arizona Stadium. The 21-year freshman from Scottsdale returned from a Mormon mission to Argentina and found a spot on Arizonas football team.
    Walk-on quarterback Jimmy Bevell spins a football on his hand as he stands outside Arizona Stadium. The 21-year freshman from Scottsdale returned from a Mormon mission to Argentina and found a spot on Arizona’s football team.

    Jimmy Bevell stood outside Arizona Stadium, surveying the campus. A football twirled in his right hand.

    The walk-on quarterback spoke of his experiences in a foreign country; of his trouble communicating in his native language; of his desire to return to the football field.

    An older woman sporting a hat that oddly resembles a football walked by. Bevell does a double-take.

    She spots the football in his hand, the “”Arizona Wildcats”” print on his chest and puts two and two together.

    “”Arizona number one!”” she yelled.

    “”Yeah, that’s right,”” Bevell replied with a smile, his hand extending to reveal an index finger expressing the same sentiment. “”Arizona is number one.””

    He turned around, his smile lingering: “”Man, that’s just like Argentine people: ‘Argentina number one!'””

    Argentina’s a long way from Tucson – or his hometown of Scottsdale, for that matter. More than 5,000 miles.

    And even though there were moments he’d like to forget, Bevell said he wouldn’t trade his experiences as a Mormon missionary to the northern part of the South American country.

    “”It really was a humbling experience,”” he said. “”When you’re down there with the Argentine people, you have to mend yourself.””

    A different type of food, a different language altogether.

    “”It was the most incredible part of my life,”” he said. “”A lot of people say that you lose two years of schooling, two years of your life, but really I gained more there than I’d ever gained in my life.

    “”Things that I’ve seen there, you would never be able to see here. Never.””

    Not that everything was good. Bevell said he and a companion were robbed at gunpoint three times, “”straight down to our underwear.””

    After one incident, Bevell was forced to run four miles back home – in the rain.

    Other times, angry locals who perceived him as arrogant for wearing a collared shirt and a tie would simply show him the guns.

    “”Some people just didn’t like us,”” Bevell said, his head shaking ever so slightly as if to say, Why? I don’t know.

    But through it all, Bevell matured. He came to integrate himself with the locals. He picked up the language in just three short months, so much so, in fact, that he says he now struggles with English.

    Even with everything that happened in Argentina, for Bevell, the good overshadowed the bad. He’d do it all again, he says now.

    When he returned to the United States in late October of last year, his focus returned to the sport he played under his father, Jim Sr., at Scottsdale’s Arcadia High School.

    “”When I came home, I started thinking, ‘OK, do I still have it?’ and if I ever did have it,”” he said.

    As luck would have it, the elder Bevell was approached by UA linebackers coach Tim Kish, who was in search of other recruits on his roster. With Jimmy due to return from his mission soon, Jim Bevell told Kish about his son.

    At first, the Arizona coaching staff felt it was set at quarterback. But soon, interest began to increase, and they asked for a high school tape of Bevell, who graduated in 2004.

    Then Sonny Dykes was hired as Arizona’s new offensive coordinator in early December. Three hours later, he showed up at the Bevells’ doorstep.

    “”I was like, ‘Holy mackerel! I’m the first person you came to,'”” Bevell says.

    Arizona invited Bevell to walk on this spring with the chance at earning a scholarship, something he hopes to accomplish by the time spring practice wraps up in April.

    Now a 21-year-old freshman, it’s Bevell’s maturity that could soon prove an asset for UA head coach Mike Stoops.

    “”As a quarterback, you’ve got to be as cold as ice. You can’t show any immaturity, you can’t show any-“” Bevell said, pausing briefly. “”I can’t figure that word out in English – you can’t show any emotion. There it is.””

    He has no illusions about next season. He said he knows it’s quarterback Willie Tuitama’s team.

    “”I know that Willie’s a fantastic athlete. I’ve watched him on TV,”” Bevell said. “”There’s nothing wrong with that athlete, nothing wrong with him at all.””

    Now on campus as a sociology major and a Spanish minor, and just two days into offseason lifting and throwing, Bevell is working to put back on the 40 pounds he lost in Argentina (he now weighs 190) and to adjust to life as a college student.

    It’s a transition that’s already been aided by his new teammates.

    When he needed a place to stay, it was linebacker Spencer Larsen, a junior who missed the 2003 and 2004 seasons during a church mission to Chile, who took Bevell under his wing, getting him in touch with his former roommates.

    When he needed to know what to do when it came to football workouts or the weight room, elder quarterback Kris Heavner was there.

    But every day, Bevell mulls over the one thing that will ease the adjustment the most.

    “”The only thing I really think about all day long is that I want to play for this school,”” hesaid. “”I want to play for this town. That’s all I want to do.””

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