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- Taylor Fox making a name for herself on and off the track (3/20/23)
- Phillip Russell to leave SEMO, enter the transfer portal (3/20/23)
- ChatGPT challenges university perspectives on AI technology (3/23/23)
- Campus-wide birthday party held in celebration 150 years of SEMO (3/22/23)
SEMO hires Kevon Beckwith, new defensive line coach with history of success
The SEMO Redhawks recently hired defensive line coach Kevon Beckwith who has a proven track record of success. But perhaps even more important than success on the field, is his commitment to building relationships off the field to prepare his players for life after football.
Head Coach Tom Matukewicz, who has been leading the program since Dec. 2013, recognized that Beckwith fit the program.
“The purpose of our program is to use the sport of football to build better men,” Coach Matukewicz said. “It’s Division One athletics, of course we keep score, we need to be successful, but at the end of the day that’s not why I get up in the morning. You’re going to drop your son off here and I’m going to bring him out a better man than when I found him.”
The new defensive line coach shares those same values.
When asked what drew him to SEMO, Beckwith said, “The leadership from the top down. The total buy-in from the community. It’s a first-class experience all the way through. This program treats people right outside of the team and creates great men within.”
On the field, Beckwith said he creates smart players who play physical and play with effort. Off the field, Coach Beckwith emphasizes wanting to establish a personal relationship with his players before the football piece is added. He wants them to first understand he is not just there for football, but to develop them into better men.
Beckwith is a native of New Orleans, La., where his love of football initially began. He grew up watching his two cousins play at Louisiana State University which sparked a fire in him at an early age.
Beckwith played competitively all throughout high school before he faced a severe back injury that eventually medically disqualified him from the sport.
Despite the injury, football was in Beckwith’s blood, so he began his coaching career as a student-coach, then graduate assistant and eventually, the quality control coach at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette over the course of six years.
That apprenticeship eventually led to an opportunity to coach full-time at a former Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) member, Austin Peay State University, in 2019. The team, led by a defense specialized in stopping the run, made it to the playoffs for the first time in school history.
After a change in head coaching at Austin Peay during the pandemic, Beckwith spent one season at Northwestern State in 2021 before moving on to his most recent position at the University of Incarnate Word (UIW) in 2022.
UIW’s defense produced another historic defensive line performance under Coach Beckwith’s guidance. Post-season honors included leading the nation in tackles for loss and top four in the nation in sacks. He plans to bring this same style of aggression to SEMO this fall.
SEMO has had success in building and sustaining the football program over the years. Coach Matukewicz attributes that success to the kind of people they’ve been able to recruit and hire.
Coach Tuke, as he is known among the student body and in the community, describes the core values of this football team as an acronym known as “L.E.A.D.,” which stands for love, effort, attitude and discipline.
In evaluating Beckwith, Matukewicz said, “He’s the kind of man I want my guys to be around. He didn’t play football at a high level, and so to have the jobs that he has had and to be in the room that he is in now, is pretty tough to do. That told me right there that this guy was good. He wouldn’t be in the spot he was in if he wasn’t able to recruit well and coach well.”
Matukewicz said that in Division One football, you don’t recruit linemen, but rather develop them.
SEMO has done just that. One of the players Beckwith will work closely with is junior defensive tackle Steven Lewis, from Pontiac, Ill.
Lewis started 10 games in the 2021 season, notching 28 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and two pass breakups. He also added eight solo stops.
In addition to his success on the field, Lewis was also named an OVC Medal of Honor Recipient in 2020 for earning a 4.0 GPA while remaining a student-athlete.
“These guys are six inches away from a fight every single snap and so your technique is that much more important because you don’t have the time and the space to redo things. We are led by our line. Where our O-line and D-line go, we go,” Matukewicz said.
While Beckwith has only been in the program a short while, Lewis noted that he has already made an impression on his players.
“He is a very honest man. He knows what it takes to go further in the playoffs and win championships, and he comes from a team that was very successful. He gets out there and means business,” Lewis said.
Beckwith will move into the 2023 coaching season alongside players like Lewis and coaches like Matukewicz, and said he is excited to experience the culture and brotherhood the SEMO football program creates.