A distant cousin of Nixa quarterback Drew Blevins gained notoriety throughout the southwest Missouri hoops scene in the winter of 2022 when he won the Tournament Of Champions dunk contest.
Recent Forsyth grad Ryder Blevins wow’d a sell-out crowd with a perfect score in the final round.
Drew and Ryder have never met and Drew reports he doesn’t have near the hops Ryder does.
“I wish I did. I think I would play basketball if I could jump like he does,” Drew said.
Instead of springs in his feet, Drew is blessed with a strong and accurate left arm. He is currently locked in a QB duel with fellow senior Nate Uber that has been the talk of Nixa’s 7-on-7 sessions, team camp workouts and the start of practices this week.
The Blevins-Uber competition actually dates back to a year ago, when they split signal-calling duties on the Eagles’ 7-1 junior-varsity squad.
It seems possible Blevins and Uber may both also be behind center for Nixa’s season-opener in two weeks versus Webb City.
Coach John Perry took a similar route two years ago, when Connor Knatcal beat out incumbent Austin McCracken for Nixa’s starting QB job on the strength of impressive showings on jamboree night and in Week One against Branson.
Knatcal went on to set school single-game, single-season and career passing records. He was 266-of-448 for 4,005 yards passing over the past two seasons.
Nixa will visit Ozark on Aug. 18 to take part in a jamboree with the host Tigers and Kickapoo.
“Perry sat us down a few weeks ago and said, 'Look, you guys have done a great job with this so far and I like where it's going,’” Blevins said. “He said he thinks we're both here for the team and we're not selfish, that we want to see our team do well and lead the team. He said as long as that keeps up and we have that mentality, that we're both going to get a chance in our first game and we'll see where it goes from there.”
As for their experience on Friday nights thus far, Uber started in the second half and played a couple series against Ozark as a sophomore two years ago. Last season in mop-up duty, Uber was 1-for-2 passing and Blevins 0-for-1.
Blevins is a southpaw and Uber a right-hander, but they share more similarities than their differences. Both have shown the ability to take advantage of the speed of wide receivers Rylan Michel and Wyatt Vincent by lofting deep balls they can catch on the run on sidelines routes.
Blevins and Uber share a weakness, or at least an area they both feel they need to improve on, by not carrying a loud voice and commanding presence in Nixa’s offensive huddle.
“Both of us struggle with being outspoken,” Uber said. “That's probably the number one thing I'm working on, trying to be a better leader. It's a little uncomfortable for me. But the more communication, the easier it gets. It's getting easier."
“I've never been a vocal leader. I've been more of a leader by example,” Blevins said. “That’s good and all. But when it comes down to it, I need to be more vocal. You've got to come out of your shell a little bit and let it out.
"It's one of those things that need to come out to get trust from the offensive linemen and receivers,” he added. “You also want to show the coaches you have it in you because they want this to be a player-led team.”
Uber and Blevins point to Knatcal as an example they can follow for what he did during and in between plays.
“He was a really good leader,” Uber said. “It was good for us to learn from him.”
As for their strengths aside from their strong arms, Uber considers himself more of a thinking man’s quarterback, while Blevins is confident in his athleticism.
“Knowing when and where to go with the ball more so than any physical traits,” Uber said of his best attributes.
“I think I have athleticism, but I've never really shown it out of the pocket because I've never really had to,” Blevins said of some of his best attributes. “In jayvee, I never needed to run out of the pocket. I like doing that, but haven’t had the opportunity do it much.”
By all accounts from Nixa's camp, Uber and Blevins can also count credible character among their strengths. Going back to last year they have said and done all the right things in their efforts to be unselfish and not create any dissension within the ranks.
“We split the reps 50-50 on the jayvee last year,” Blevins said. “Nate would have a drive and then I would have the next drive. It went back and forth.”
“It’s a friendly competition,” Uber said. “When the other guy does something good, you try to do something good the next rep. We’re trying to do the best we can.”