SouthtownStar Athletes on Campus: Kevin Kintzel, of Western Illinois, on national linebackers watch list
By Mike Walsh For Sun-Times Media July 11, 2014 7:32PM
Kevin Kintzel, of Western Illinois | Supplied photo
Updated: July 13, 2014 2:13AM
When Kevin Kintzel accepts his diploma from Western Illinois in the spring, the New Lenox resident will do so with a career in protecting the public as his primary goal for the future.
The Lincoln-Way West graduate is majoring in law enforcement with double minors in sociology and security with hopes of one day working for the Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Secret Service or Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In the fall, however, Kintzel’s primary protective concerns will revolve around his third season as a starting outside linebacker for the Leathernecks.
The fans and players of Western Illinois should feel secure with Kintzel on their team. The senior has been named to the 2014 College Football Performance Awards Watch List, joining 37 other linebackers from around the nation in the Football Championship Subdivision.
In 2013, Kintzel shared the CFPA’s National Linebacker of the Year Award, as well as receiving honorable mention All-Missouri Valley Football Conference accolades as he set a Leathernecks record with three defensive touchdowns (2 interceptions, 1 fumble return).
Kintzel tied for the team lead in tackles (74) and interceptions (3), while pacing his team in tackles for loss (11), fumble recoveries (3) and forced fumbles (2). Kintzel was second in sacks (3½) and pass breakups (6).
“I want to do a little bit better this year,” Kintzel said. “I want to bring (the CFPA National Linebacker of the Year Award) back to Western Illinois again.
“Winning the award last year gives me a bunch of confidence and a lot of pride, but I would like to see our team be more successful than we were last year. That would make me happier than winning the award.
“Our team’s goal is to win our conference. Something I would love to do is help us move in a winning direction and restore the glory at Western Illinois.”
While attaining personal glory isn’t high on Kintzel’s to-do list, he did receive another honor. He was chosen one of the Leathernecks’ four captains this season. This is the first time in his career that Kintzel has received this recognition.
“It’s a huge honor to have 100-plus young men look to you as someone to lean on,” Kintzel said. “This is a great honor for me.
“From the field to the classroom to the weight room, it’s been a lot of fun with these guys. I’m honored they chose me to do this. I want to be a great leader and improve our stats this season.”
Western begins its season Aug. 28, welcoming Valparaiso to Macomb. Before conference play begins, the Leathernecks will visit Big Ten teams Wisconsin (Sept. 6) and Northwestern (Sept. 20).
“We gave Minnesota a run for their money last year (in a 29-12 loss in Minneapolis),” Kintzel said. “It’s a great test to play against Big Ten teams, and it’s a lot of fun to play in big stadiums.
“But those are also opportunities for us to tune up and get better for our conference schedule. These are chances for us to measure up against the big guys in college football.”
Eastern Illinois third baseman Brant Valach was chosen the Adidas/Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week for the period ending April 7.
In four games, the junior hit .500 (9-for-18) with six runs, a double, three home runs, 10 RBI, a 1.056 slugging percentage and a .526 on-base percentage.
For the season, the Sandburg graduate appeared in 38 games (all starts) for the Panthers. The Orland Park resident was second in batting average (.333), homers (5) and RBI (39).
Valach was third in triples (2) and on-base percentage (.401), sixth in runs (26) and tied for seventh in doubles (6).