Starting left guard Tevon Stephens-Brown has been what you might call a pleasant surprise for the Pacific Lutheran University football team
It’s just that it’s hard to imagine the 6-foot-1, 280-pound Wilson High School graduate sneaking up on anyone.
Four years ago – when Stephens-Brown wasn’t a primary recruiting target for the PLU football team – things were different. Nothing was expected of him. He wasn’t a team captain, an all-Northwest Conference player or an NCAA Division III preseason All-American, like he is this season.
And when it came time for the Lutes to take their annual “Breakaway” team retreat his freshman year, Stephens-Brown wasn’t even on the bus.
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“Tevon walked on at PLU. They didn’t know who this kid was,” said Don Clegg, who coached Stephens-Brown for four years at Wilson. “It wasn’t long before they started to realize what they had. ... From being just a walk-on and kind of a guy no one really knew, to becoming a captain. That’s a great story in itself.”
But that is only part of the tale. Stephens-Brown – who was raised in Tacoma by his mother, an eighth grade teacher at First Creek Middle School – began his career at PLU by playing on the defensive line for the Lutes’ scout team.
“Our starting (offensive line) group could not block him, at all, period,” PLU offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Trevor Roberts said. “We had quite a bit of depth at the defensive line. I just thought, ‘Boy, if they’re not going to use him, we’re going to use him.’ ”
Use him the Lutes have. While Stephens-Brown admits the transition to offensive line took some adjustment, now he says he couldn’t imagine playing another position. It just fits him.
“On the D-line you can get some glory, some D-lineman get a lot of glory, but on the O-line it’s your sole job to protect people,” Stephens-Brown said. “You have to realize that you’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing for the guy next to you, literally, because if you don’t work together then the play’s going to be over.
“We’re just here to play for each other and the love of it.”
With Stephens-Brown being one of two captains anchoring the Lutes’ senior-laden offensive line, Roberts said the team turns to him in crunch time for his “calm intensity.”
Clegg noted Stephens-Brown is typically soft-spoken, but “can get pretty fired up, and pretty emotional.”
“He’s kind of a hidden volcano at times,” Clegg said.
The Lutes are loaded on offense. They return 10 starters, many of which were honored as all-NWC players a season ago.
And Stephens-Brown, a three-year starter, is just as important as any of them.
“I tend to look at football from an offensive perspective, and with all these pieces coming together, we’re in an exciting place right now,” PLU coach Scott Westering said. “Tevon is a big part of that.”