Former Warsaw Community High School kicker Andrew Mevis poses for photos at a Jacksonville Jaguars event. Mevis was picked up by Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent following the 2022 NFL Draft.
Former Warsaw Community High School kicker Andrew Mevis poses for photos at a Jacksonville Jaguars event. Mevis was picked up by Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent following the 2022 NFL Draft.
There are college graduates filling the offices, labs, and manufacturing facilities throughout the area, and there are college graduates taking a summer break for travel and leisure.

Andrew Mevis, WCHS ’17, Warsaw, Fordham, and Iowa State place kicker, will be spending the next 4 ½ weeks preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the NFL. Mevis was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars almost immediately following the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Tiger alum completed a rookie camp in May, and Jacksonville’s first mini-camp 1 ½ weeks ago. The Times-Union caught up with Mevis in a phone conversation while he took a brief break for time at the beach with his family in Jacksonville.

His mind is already focused on the work it will take for him to bring his A-game to the July 24 training camp at TIAA Bank Field at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville. The Jaguars are concurrently constructing a new training facility projected to open in 2023.

“What I do in these five weeks off, or whatever, are gonna make the difference,” Mevis remarked. “Everything gets ramped up. You're basically on the chopping block there. You either make it or you don't. I just see it as an opportunity of a lifetime I've been waiting for, and it's finally here. I just want to make sure I do all the little things to make that dream comes true.”

Mevis will be in familiar company during this process. Cole Richards was his special teams coach during his days as a Warsaw Tiger, and he will play an essential role in the kicker’s training camp preparation.

Mevis has worked with coaches at all levels upon completing his two recent camps with the Jags. He still holds Richards’s insights and coaching in extremely high regard.

“There's a lot of people who think that (Andrew’s brother, Missouri kicker) Harrison and I have accomplished all these things on our own,” Mevis said. “Nobody really knows that Coach Richards is the one who taught us, and really showed us what we needed to do to succeed as kickers beyond the high school level.

“He was a great kicking and special teams coach, and he's just a great mentor I’ll work with to prepare for the NFL between now and the beginning of training camp. You don't find a special teams coach like  Cole Richards at high school level very often.”

The kicker, whose journey to the NFL started at Fordham, then through the graduate portal to Iowa State in turn, shared his draft day experience. Kickers tend not to be drafted, but instead, as Mevis experienced, they are signed as undrafted free agents. A move by the Cleveland Browns, and the draft-day trade maneuvers typical in the process raised the Tiger alum’s antenna, though.

“It's crazy how it kind of works,” Mevis said regarding draft day. “Cleveland drafted Cade York in the fourth round this year, which is pretty early for a kicker. I thought that from what I had heard that it would be me or York (as) one of the first two (kickers) off the board. After Cade was taken, then they… took some punters. Nobody else took a kicker.”

Mevis continued to see if he was in for a pleasant surprise during the draft’s late rounds.

“We're watching it based upon the teams I was in contact with. Then, you know, teams trade and a bunch of stuff changes throughout the later rounds. Once Cade went in the fourth round I was like ‘oh man, I might… be the next (kicker) off the board essentially.”

Mevis did not hear his name called, but his agent, Brooks Henderson of International Sports Advisors (ISA), was already in contact with interested parties.

“My agent and I had been in contact with the Jaguars,” Mevis noted. “We kind of knew halfway through, like, the sixth round if I wasn't taken by anybody else, I'd probably end up signing with Jacksonville. So, we already had it worked out before the end.”

Since the Jaguars’ 2017 AFC championship game appearance, the team has accumulated a 15-50 won-loss record. Everyone in the NFL, however, is still incredibly good, and each season teams in the Jags’ lot have seen other squads before them dramatically turn things around.

The NFL schedule, in fact, facilitates this by including three teams among the other conference divisions, and two other teams in the opposite conference who finished in the same position in their respective divisions.

“Being (here) everyday this spring, and seeing all the guys who showed up,” Mevis said. “(You see) everybody is really invested in this team. As the team culture continues to grow that's what's gonna help us win more games.”

Mevis’s team signed Doug Pederson, who had stints with Andy Reid at Philadelphia and Kansas City before being named Philadelphia’s head coach. He subsequently took the reins in Jacksonville last February.

Mevis, undrafted, seemed to appreciate the lot of an unsigned free agent.

“Some people (say there’s an) advantage of being an undrafted free agent,” Mevis said. “You get to choose where you go. I had, like, talked to (Jacksonville special teams coordinator) Heath (Farrell) when he came to Iowa State to work me out.”

Fans read about high-profile draftees getting life-changing signing bonuses and traveling to their new franchise immediately following the draft for a big welcome.

There is not much fanfare for athletes selected beyond the first, or sometimes second, round. Mevis was pleased with his onboarding experience, nonetheless.

“They had me in a hotel downtown. It was nice,” he said. “Jacksonville is not like a crazy-big city. It's actually pretty quiet and just kind of chill all around. It's not too busy and traveling around town was easy. The river goes right through town, and you're 20 minutes from the beach.”

Mevis reported to rookie camp in mid-May, and just completed the full-team mini-camp this past week. These activities preceding the July 24 training camp are termed organized team activities (OTAs).

Mevis noted the camp appeared full, unlike some mini camps where veterans don’t attend for numerous reasons.

“I think we had all 90 guys,” Mevis noted. “It's nice. You can get everything (you need to have) done. All of our practices have been in the stadium. Our fall camp is going to be off site while the new facility is being built.”

The difference in compensation and other perquisites among NFL rookies and other free agents (undrafted and veteran) vary vastly, but players are not left to be indigent. Most rookies, though, must manage their personal resources carefully.

“As a rookie they don't have to give you anything,” Mevis said. “If you’re a veteran they essentially give you a per diem for the OTA's, but as a rookie you're just trying to do whatever you gotta do to make it and be there every day so they can get to know you.

“As an undrafted free agent, they can give you signing bonuses to carry you through until preseason or fall camp, and then that's when they give you some form of per diem, I think, but other than that, personal finances are on you.”

Mevis is one course away from completing his master’s degree in family financial planning, so he already has the intellectual horsepower to manage his resources.

In addition to football drills and conditioning rookies can use the platform to make personal and community connections, and gain knowledge of various opportunities to give back to the community.

Transitional services include rookie orientation each day after practice, bringing in speakers to cover numerous topics relevant to on-boarding as a professional athlete. These sessions were available at the rookie camp and the mini camp.

Mevis noted another interesting part of the rookie camp and mini-camp mutually beneficial to the NFL prospects and budding sports journalists.

“Young reporters who are learning their profession came in and interviewed all of us,” Mevis noted.

Professional athletes must file state income taxes for the road-game venues where they will play throughout the season, something the casual fan takes for granted. If Mevis makes the Jaguars’ squad he’ll be income tax free for Jags’ home games, and he also observed the tax rates among the three other AFC South opponents (Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Houston) are either tax free, or relatively lower than venues in California, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Mevis is already savvy when it comes to personal finances, but he plans to let an accountant manage those filings among out-of-state opponents’ venues.

The 2021 third-team All-American shared a significant difference between matriculating to a four-year/graduate portal experience and the awakening arrival at an NFL franchise’s preseason activities.

“When you arrive at college as an undergrad or through the graduate portal, you’re settled in to develop, or you play immediately’” Mevis said. “The college teams will keep more than one kicker. In the NFL, at the end of the day, either you make it or you gotta go home immediately to get another job instead of getting those four years, or whatever.

“(The NFL) could get rid of anybody at any time. You could be done the next day, you could be done in a week , or you could be done in months. You just never know when the last day of being able to be a football player will be, so you just gotta keep working and chasing to make the dream last as long as possible.”

Fans who are eager to see firsthand how Mevis will fare in Jacksonville’s training camp will get the earliest NFL preseason glimpse because the Jaguars open the 2022 NFL preseason against the Las Vegas Raiders in the Hall of Fame game Thursday, August 4 at 8:00 p.m. The clash takes place each year at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.