Playing closer to home

Center Grove grad happy with choice to join IU program

Time has been unsuccessful in shrinking the giant chip resting on Gavin Everett’s shoulder.

It was present throughout Everett’s football career at Center Grove High School and during what amounted to a five-month stay at Western Illinois University.

Everett, a 6-foot-3, 239-pound defensive end who transferred to Indiana University in January, now uses it to fuel his efforts as a walk-on for the Hoosiers.

Redshirted as a freshman at Western Illinois, Everett, due to the timing of his transfer, won’t be eligible to play for Indiana until the 2017 season.

In the meantime, he’s taking part in weightlifting, conditioning and other team activities on the Bloomington campus.

“Right out of high school I kind of felt overlooked,” said Everett, who was offered a scholarship by one school (Western Illinois) despite finishing Center Grove’s 2014 season with 32 tackles and a team-high nine sacks.

“I felt there was more growth at IU, whether it was education-wise or sports-wise,” he said. “I’m really happy with my decision.”

Everett weighed 225 pounds upon arriving at Western Illinois, a Missouri Valley Conference program located in the city of Macomb.

He said the coach’s decision to redshirt him was made the final week of practice leading up to the start of the Leathernecks’ 2015 season.

“I did think I was going to play as a freshman,” Everett said. “The coaches talked to me about it and said they were on the fence about using me as a third-down pass rusher.”

After being told he would be redshirted, Everett maintained a positive attitude.

He would use the year to add weight to his frame, gain a better understanding of the program’s defensive schemes and adjust to being at a campus a 4½-hour drive from his family back home.

At some point, Everett brought up the possibility of transferring to his parents, Chris and Caroline.

“They were very supportive,” Everett said.

Everett now resides in an off-campus apartment with Indiana placekicker Calob Meinzer, a redshirt freshman who walked onto the Hoosiers’ football program during the 2015 season.

It’s more common for football players to seek playing time at a smaller program such as Division III, II or NAIA than it is to transfer to a Division I conference as prestigious as the Big Ten.

Everett, who is going against the grain of traditional thinking, should never be counted out, according to Center Grove coach Eric Moore.

“Gavin is an excellent student-athlete. He has great length and is an awesome athlete,” Moore said. “He will have to earn his opportunity to play but has made a big step in his physical development since his high school days.

“He is like most Center Grove football players, who really physically mature the next two years (after high school). I’m very proud of his efforts.”

Departing the Western Illinois campus wasn’t as easy as packing a few bags, shaking some hands and driving east.

One of Everett’s Leathernecks’ former teammates also is his best friend since third-grade — former Center Grove running back Max Norris.

Norris, who also was redshirted in 2015, remains at Western Illinois.

“Obviously, he would like me to be there, but he was supportive of me,” Everett said. “It’s all good. I felt bad about leaving, but, ultimately I just had to do what’s best for me.”

Gavin Everett pullout


Name: Gavin Everett

Age: 19

Born: Indianapolis

Family: Parents, Chris and Caroline; sister, Kendall, 9

Favorite TV show: “Prison Break”

Favorite food: Steak

Favorite athlete: Clay Matthews

Favorite team: Green Bay Packers

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at