For most of the Hawaiian players on the Oregon State football team, the trip to this week’s Hawaii Bowl is a chance for family and friends to see the Beavers play in person.
Devon Kell’s family was ahead of the game.
Kell was headed into his senior season this year, so his family — parents David and Dayna and younger brother Drew — decided to move from Hilo, Hawaii, to Corvallis to watch him play.
“So now we’re all going to go back and be home for the holidays, stay there and then we’ll come back once school starts again,” Kell said.
Kell said he is excited to see friends and additional family members while in Honolulu for Tuesday’s Christmas Eve game.
He is also eager to eat some home cooking and get a lot of sun.
The Hawaii Bowl was a pleasant surprise for Kell.
“It wasn’t even in the talk the whole time,” Kell said. “My dad texted me and said it’s going to come up soon and I didn’t believe him at first and then it did and I was really excited.
“It saved me a flight. I get to go home and stay home, so it will be good.”
After the holidays, Dayna will return to Corvallis as Drew finishes his school year at Crescent Valley High School. Drew played football in the fall but suffered a season-ending injury.
“So he got the surgery the next week and he’s out of his boot now and he’s doing real well, working out again so he can get ready for baseball season,” Devon Kell said.
Baseball was the sport Kell was going to pursue out of Hilo High.
He made a trip to the mainland to check out some baseball programs and wound up talking to representatives of both programs at Oregon State.
He had already met OSU defensive coordinator Mark Banker and defensive line coach Joe Seumalo when they were looking one of Kell’s teammates in Hawaii.
“I thought about maybe playing both (football and baseball) and it was no way I could do that, it was just too much time,” he said.
“Then I just decided I would commit to play football.”
That meant coming in as a walk-on.
And that was fine with Kell from a football standpoint. He just wanted a chance to show his abilities.
“Every season I would come in and I would learn my role at the beginning of the season and I would try and fulfill that role as I go along and make a couple plays here and there and hope to have a successful season,” Kell said. “Everyone plays their part and that’s how it gets done.”
Kell got bigger as he learned more about OSU’s defensive system.
He played in three games in 2010, and in 2011 he played in seven games, finishing with three tackles — and a scholarship from Oregon State coach Mike Riley.
Last season, Kell played all 13 games and had eight stops.
This season, he has 16 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and two sacks. He also has a pass breakup and a fumble recovery.
Kell said the season was not quite what the Beavers were hoping for, particularly after winning nine games and going to the Alamo Bowl last year.
“We consider it maybe a little disappointing because 6-6 is not where we wanted to be,” he said. “But we had some ups and downs and we definitely fought through some things and let some big games slip away that we probably should have had.
“We’ve just got to keep working. We still got one more game.”
After the bowl game, Kell plans to head back to Corvallis to start an internship with student health services next semester.
He wants to get some good experience before he joins the workforce.
“I’m a public health major, so it will be a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m not expecting a job out of it, I’m just hoping to gain some experience and see what I like about the industry.”
As for the bowl game, Kell would like nothing better than for the Beavers to snap their five-game losing streak and to finish his career with a win.
“You always want to go out with a bang, you always want to go out the right way. You don’t want to leave that doubt,” he said. “So a tough season this season, it would be really nice to just end it with a concrete, solid win and have that stick out in our minds.”