More football draws Raymer to Bethel
Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:00 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Having capped a spectacular senior season by being named the inaugural winner of the Weakley County Press Prep Player of the Year Award, Devan Raymer still isn’t ready to hang up his cleats.
The Dresden All-Stater — given the choice of being a student-athlete via football scholarship to Bethel University or just a regular college kid — opted for the opportunity to continue his gridiron career while attending classes on the Wildcat campus in McKenzie.
The multi-talented Raymer rushed for more than 2,000 yards and had a team-best six interceptions his senior year when the Lions went 11-2 and advanced to the Class 2A semifinals. He was one of 26 players to sign with BU on National Signing Day Wednesday.
Bethel’s recruiting haul included a handful of other rural West Tennessee standouts, including brothers Carlos and Quincy Waldon of South Gibson, Huntingdon’s Logan Diebold, Dyer County’s Ky Wilson and Hayden Whitby of Trenton.
While easily the smallest from a physical stature of that list, the 5-7, 160-pound Raymer insisted he didn’t want to have regrets down the road by shunning the chance to show he can play on the next level.
“I could’ve just gone to school at UTM, but I didn’t want to get down the road and wish I’d have played,” Raymer told The Press Wednesday. “I’ve always wanted to play college football, and it was just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
“I might not be as big or as fast or as strong as everybody else, but there were a lot of people who never thought I’d be able to play in high school. I ran a 5.7 (40 yard dash time) as a freshman, and I got that down to a 4.7 as a senior. And I’m going to keep on working on that and in the weight room.”
His coach, Keith Hodge, was admittedly skeptical of Raymer’s future upon first sight.
“I just really didn’t know then if he’d make it,” Hodge chuckled. “He obviously showed everybody. No question, he has the heart and guts of a great football player. He gives everything he has on every play. And his work ethic is off the chart. When he sets his mind to something, he’s going to do it.
“I think the main thing with Devan is that when you sit down with him personally, you realize real quick he has all the intangibles that you want in a player. His character is what I believe every college football coach in the country is looking for.”
Bethel assistant coach Luke Roth — who represented the Wildcat program at Wednesday’s signing and works with BU’s special teams after starting as a punter there during his playing career — went to bat for Raymer with head coach Chris Elliott repeatedly.
“All football coaches…the first things they look at are height, weight, 40-time and how much a kid can bench. And a lot of great kids getted skipped over because of that,” insisted Roth, who said Raymer would likely see action at safety and on special teams. “I pushed for Devin because I saw him four or five times during the season, and I know what he’s capable of.
“He has talents that there are no stats for. He’s a great student of the game and it took him about two minutes to pick up our defense when he visited. He will be a ‘program guy.’ He’ll be on campus to get an education first and he’ll do everything right and be a great representation of the program.”
Bethel plays in Division I of the NAIA level and is coming off a 9-4 season in which it advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
Published in The Press 2.7.13