(Courtesy Enquirer Media)
He works for the "Quiet Company", Northwestern Mutual, but during his Bearcat career, Andre Revels was far from quiet.
Sure, he could be introspective and some may have mistaken his blunt honesty for "attitude", but on the football field, Andre Revels was never quiet. Even if he wasn't "talking smack", Andre Revels would hit you "loudly".
Evidence of that comes from the cover of the Cincinnati Enquirer pictorial book, "Cheer Cincinnati" which followed UC's run to the Orange Bowl during the 2008 season. In the picture, Andre has just leveled a Pitt player at Nippert and is standing over him in the pose that Cassius Clay (at the time)/Muhammad Ali had as he hovered over a beaten Sonny Liston.
As his Bearcat career evolved, Andre Revels went on to be a vocal leader. He was brought into weekly press luncheons, he was brought to the media room after his last game (Sugar Bowl) and he was eloquent last season at a UC basketball game drumming up support for Coach Butch Jones.
His passion remains high, but now his "playing weight" is lower.
"About 20 or 30 pounds," said a subdued Revels at a recent Starbucks meeting in the Rookwood Pavilion.
Revels' Northwestern Mutual office is just around the corner and now he wears a suit to work selling the various financial offerings Northwestern has to offer. (Here's the plug--you can find him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Nowhere is the #50 present, but he does sport an oversized bowl ring that he earned for his efforts at UC. Unlike some of his teammates, Andre's strapped on the pads for the last time.
"I knew most of the way through the season," admitted Revels. "Whatever bowl game we were going to be in, that was going to be it for my collegiate career."
Instead of maintaining weight, hiring strength coaches and agents and trying to hook on for a few more licks, Revels is nearly unrecognizable in his lighter frame. His brilliant smile and air of confidence give him away though and he represents the student-athlete that most coaches hope to produce after a player has gone through his "tour of duty".
Now instead of enforcing policies for a program, he's selling them for another in the same respectful, professional manner he carried himself on the field. And yes, he's available for a consultation should the Bearcats need his services.
"I'm there for them through anything," said Revels. "They know I'm not really a 'rah-rah'-type guy so I doubt it will be for a speech. But, if they need it, I'll go up there and get it going."
Again, if you heard him speak at Fifth Third Arena with Coach Jones this winter, you know he can get it going. I've heard a lot of student-athletes take the mike in those situations and Revels was as eloquent as they come. (QB Chazz Anderson is very good too, but that may be another story for another day.)
It's all part of the Coach Jones mantra of "Representing the C" and it's something that Revels has obviously bought into.
"I haven't played for him but I have gone to many engagements with him throughout the offseason," said Revels. "He seems like a really great guy, a great character--a man that doesn't just want a football team--a man that wants to coach a group of great individuals that can fit inside society later. That's not characteristic of football coaches, it's usually all about wins."
Revels knows a thing or two about coaches, having played for Associate Head Coach/DBs Kerry Coombs at Colerain and Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly at UC.
"Dantonio is a whole lot quieter than Coach Kelly," said Revels in perhaps the understatement of the year. "They both are on the same philosophy system as far as getting the work done. Dantonio wanted more of a power running team, Coach Kelly was more 'let's air it out and throw a bunch of points on the board'. At the end of the day, they wanted people to stay true to who they were and to the system."
"Coach Jones seems like he's going to follow in that same characteristic. The characteristic is that, 'we're a team, we stick together, we win together and we're going to go out there and play good football.'"
Good football was synonymous with Revels as he won a state title at Colerain and was perpetually in the playoffs there and then was around for bowls in all four of his playing years with the Bearcats. Unfortunately, his last bowl was coached by an interim (Jeff Quinn) when Brian Kelly bolted for Notre Dame on banquet night last December.
Even on that night, Revels was courteous and thoughtful in his words to the media.
"It was rumored through the grapevine that it was coming, so we were kind of braced for impact," said Revels. "People took it in different ways. Some reacted less than desirably to it. Some were very unhappy. At the end of the day, this is a business, it's about production."
While many think UC's trip to the Sugar Bowl might've had a different result had Kelly stayed and seen the team through, Revels refuses to speculate.
"No, there's no excuses for losses," said Revels. "You either win or you lose, end of story."
Based on the way Florida's Tim Tebow played that night and the inspiration the Gators had from Urban Meyer, I'm not sure if a combination of Lombardi, Don Shula, Parcells, Walsh and Paul Brown would've made a difference.
Still, there's no debate that Andre Revels was a part of great success, tradition and transition in UC's football program. Even now, the door to the Bob Goin team meeting room down the hall from the lockers has Andre's picture on it as a career of lasting memories lives on.
"We didn't have the Lindner Center at first," said Revels. "We didn't have the weight room at first. There's so many things that have developed over the last four years. What I'll remember most is the locker room time, riding on the planes, the time with my teammates which is really more special than what any win-loss column will show."
To this day, former safety Cedric Tolbert is Andre's best friend. He also enjoyed the company of Terrill Byrd (at Colerain and UC) and Ricardo Mathews. Beyond that, Revels wouldn't mention a particular Bearcat that stood out, nor would he mention the recipient of his biggest hit, game or practice.
"I don't know, hopefully everybody that I hit received my biggest hit," said a grinning Revels.
That's the kind of effort he gave. Every play, every hit--the same. No one ever got cheated.
It's simplistic and mundane, but it's a pretty good approach to life: give every day your best shot and if it doesn't work out, dust yourself off and do it again.
Repetition. Muscle memory. It only leaves you if you let it and I assure you, it hasn't left Andre Revels.