Humble Stevenson is Titans’ not-so-gentle gridiron giant

by Chris Hunt

Tevin Stevenson

From afar, Hopewell’s mammoth defensive tackle Tevin Stevenson can best be described as a fierce competitor. At 6 foot 2 and 260 pounds, he’s a beast at the line of scrimmage, often drawing a double team from smaller offensive linemen.

On any given play, Stevenson can be seen in the trenches, pounding away on opponents with his superior strength and leverage. He naturally keeps his pad level low, which, combined with unusual quickness for his size, can be extremely intimidating to the offensive linemen assigned to block him.

Ball carriers don’t get a break, either. When Stevenson breaks through the defensive line, it appears from the bleachers that running backs and quarterbacks within his reach are swallowed up, disappearing from sight.

From afar, Stevenson appears to be a terror at the line of scrimmage. But those fortunate enough to get a closer look, or perhaps even meet Stevenson without his helmet hiding his face, will see a different side of the Titans’ standout lineman. Stevenson is just another happy-go-lucky teenager. With his size and strength, he could easily be a bully. Instead, he prefers to charm people with a big aw-shucks kind of grin.

Stevenson said most people are intimidated when they first see him, but that doesn’t last long after they meet him. His infectious personality came in handy, quickly winning over his Titans teammates after transferring from East Mecklenburg last spring, where he earned Southwestern 4A all-conference honors as a sophomore.

“He’s just goofy,” said offensive tackle Corey Copeland. “He’s always laughing at something – stupid, random stuff. He just has a great personality.”

Laughs aside, Stevenson’s play on the gridiron also helped him fit in on the Titans’ football squad. He started the season with a bang, recording a first-half safety in his season debut that sparked a 23-9 victory over West Mecklenburg on Aug. 20.

After nine games this season, Stevenson is third on the Titans with 39 tackles. Then again, he isn’t one to brag about his statistics. Hopewell coach Chris Rust, however, doesn’t have a problem singing his praises.

“He’s made a difference for us on the defensive line,” said Rust. “He does a great job stuffing the middle, and he’s got great strength and speed for his size.”

After the season opener, it didn’t take long for word of Stevenson’s talents to reach teams in the I-MECK 4A conference. These days, rival offensive coordinators make sure to put at least two blockers on Stevenson, but he doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he welcomes the double teams, knowing his linebackers will be free to make the tackle.

“I have no clue why I always see double teams, but as long as my linebacker is there, I’m good,” said Stevenson modestly. “Taking up a double team and keeping the line off my linebackers is the best thing I can do.”

While he certainly could, Stevenson doesn’t even feel the need to intimidate his opponents. Yes, he’s competitive, but he doesn’t hide a scowl behind his facemask. In fact, teammates, such as center Lyndon Johnson, said Stevenson’s always smiling, even under the Friday night lights.

“I don’t get mad during football games,” said Stevenson. “I don’t have to do all that jumping around and hollering before a game just to play football. I just like to hit and play football. It keeps me busy.”

Many would be surprised to learn that the same player who terrorizes Hopewell opponents on Friday nights also spends Sunday mornings singing for his church choir. Church is so important to Stevenson and his family that they drive an hour-and-a-half to Ebenezer A.M.E. Zion Church in Midland. It’s the church Stevenson has attended since he was a small child. While painfully shy about his talent to sing church hymns in his baritone voice, Stevenson said it keeps him at peace.

But don’t confuse Stevenson for a pushover. He isn’t exactly practicing peace and forgiveness on the football field. Just ask his opponents, or fellow Titan offensive linemen that face him head-to-head every day in practice.

“He’s generally a happy person,” said Johnson. “But he’s not a gentle giant – he’s just a giant.”

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