DIBBLE — Tazden Jevons has been kicked in the chest, stomped on, bitten and head-butted.
It sounds like a typical Friday night for a small-school running back just about anywhere in Oklahoma.
But those moments didn't come on the football field for the Dibble standout.
No, Jevons took those beatings in his own backyard, where he enjoys his second passion: horses.
When the 6-foot-1, 215-pound running back isn't taking on defensive linemen who want to put him on his back, he can often be found breaking a horse that might very well have the same goal.
“It's tough. You get thrown around, knocked down,” Jevons said, with a smile on his face. “It's a lot of work, constantly working with the horse and slowly working your way along.”
Playing rough has never scares Jevons. It's just his persona, whether he's on the football field or in the pasture.
“There's not much Tazden does that isn't rough,” said his mother, Kathy Jevons. “He doesn't have much fear of anything.”
Taz was a defensive lineman when he played youth football, but eventually worked his way to linebacker. In junior high, coaches tried him out at running back, and it stuck.
As a junior, he rushed for 1,918 yards and 27 touchdowns on 217 carries and has averaged over 10 yards per carry the last two seasons.
He has the size and strength to gain NCAA Division I recruiting attention, likely as a linebacker, but his toughness sets him apart, especially on the Class 2A level.
“The thing that makes him good is that he's reckless,” Dibble coach J.R. Conrad said. “Lately, he's been banged up, and I don't know if he knows how to respond to that yet. When he's cautious, he's not the same player. We haven't seen the Tazden Jevons in 2013.
“He's a special player, though. Not only is he our best player, our toughest player, but he's a calming effect for everybody, because they know what to expect from him on game night.”
Jevons has taken a worse beating on the football field than from his horses the last few weeks. He broke his nose on the third play of the season, and broke his finger the next week, forcing him to play with a large, padded cast on his left hand. He also suffered a knee injury that slowed him down for a week or two.
“It's a little tough for me to watch him out there,” said Kathy Jevons. “He's got a broken nose, a cast on his hand and a banged-up knee, and he's running right down the middle of the pack.”
Injured or not, Jevons knows he has to be cautious with his horses. He doesn't want an injury in the pasture to cost him on the football field. He's receiving recruiting interest from a wide variety of programs, particularly Oklahoma State and New Mexico, along with multiple lower level and Division II schools.
But Jevons has been working with horses since he was 10 years old, and he doesn't want to give it up completely. He loves it too much. Right now, the family has two, though they've had several others over the years. They have Dreamer, who gave birth to a colt last year, and Tazden has been working with him since he was born.
“You know how everybody wants a dog when they're little?” Jevons said. “I wanted a horse.”
Breaking horses goes back nearly a decade in the Jevons family. Kathy works for a company that sells horses, and Tazden's oldest sister, Darci, was the one who really got into it.
Working with the FFA at Dibble, she began breaking horses and showing them. At shows, people would ask her who trained her horses. When they found out she did it herself, they began bringing their horses to her to break.
Tazden, only 10 years old at the time, started watching and learning — and quickly, he was getting involved.
“Darci would work hard at it,” Tazden said. “She'd throw a saddle on those horses and ride ‘em til they were worn out, then they'd do whatever she wanted. I can't quite do it like that, because I don't want to get hurt and not be able to play football. So I have to go a little slower when I'm working with a horse. Watching her, I don't know how she does it.”
But sometimes, he doesn't have a choice, and from time to time in the pasture, Tazden's football instincts kick in.
“You can't be scared going into it, whether it's football or with a horse,” he said. “If that horse gets away from you, he's gone and you've got to go get him. Same as going after a running back. You've got to haul after that horse, get him and hold on tight.
“Just like playing linebacker.”