DeVante' Gabriel came to Kansas Wesleyan for this moment. Now he's playing in the postseason

Kansas Wesleyan linebacker DeVante' Gabriel (22) prepares for a play against Ottawa on Oct. 30 at Graves Family Sports Complex.
Kansas Wesleyan linebacker DeVante' Gabriel (22) prepares for a play against Ottawa on Oct. 30 at Graves Family Sports Complex.

MARION, Ind. — DeVante' Gabriel was one of the additions for Kansas Wesleyan who arrived for the spring portion of the 2020-21 season.

And he has certainly made his presence felt after transferring from Texas College.

Gabriel, a first-team All-Kansas Conference selection at linebacker, is leading the Coyotes in tackles with 56, including 4.5 for a loss, and also has forced a fumble. He said that it was a change coming to KWU, a powerhouse program in the NAIA, from Texas College, which hasn't had as much success.

"Coming in and being a part of a great defense that was already here and just adding my piece to it and being a part of it and making an impact (was rewarding)," said Gabriel, who hails from Spring, Tex. "It's actually been exciting because I'm actually seeing my hard work pay off. A lot of the guys are respecting my hard work and even picking up habits from me."

Gabriel and the Coyotes are the No. 10 seed in the NAIA Football Championship Series and will take on fifth-seeded Indiana Wesleyan at noon Saturday in Marion, Indiana.

One of Gabriel's first goals was to bring KWU a Kansas Conference championship and get to play in the playoffs for the first time.

"I've never won a conference championship," Gabriel said. "Being able to get into the playoffs is a blessing. I've always been on the outside looking in, but now I'm here at Kansas Wesleyan and being on a top-tier defense and being able to go against a top-tier offense and into the playoffs. This is a great experience for me. I'm looking forward to how we turn this on."

Heading into this week's opening-round game, Gabriel is preparing more than he has before, especially after the Coyotes suffered a 42-24 loss to Southwestern last Saturday.

"I'm watching film more than usual," Gabriel said. "I'm making sure I'm in the gym. I'm making sure I'm doing the little things right so I can be important for my team and be an important piece for us winning this first round of the playoffs.

"We have one goal in mind, to get the ball back to our explosive offense so we can win games."

KWU coach Myers Hendrickson said Gabriel was a great addition to the roster at semester last year, allowing him to play three games this past spring.

"We play selfless defense here. We tackle well. It's one thing I was so excited to see the success that we've had in him being able to lead the defense," Hendrickson said. "Without one player having a huge tackle number, it's the same thing with our defensive line. It's the sacks (that) have come by committee. A lot of different individuals have been in on those sacks.

"DeVante's leadership, he's like the quarterback of our defense playing linebacker for us, getting everybody lined up. And what he does Sunday through Friday is probably just as important as what he does on Saturdays because of the great leadership he provides."

Along with Gabriel leading the way, Zyair Velazquez has been another key piece at linebacker. Velazquez, who was an honorable mention All-KCAC pick at linebacker has 40 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, and a fumble recovery.

"With him and Z being a one-two punch at the linebacker position, it's got us to where we're at defensively because we've got multiple players that play at an extremely high level," Hendrickson said. "

Dylan Sherwood has been a sports reporter for the Salina Journal since August 2019. He can be reached at or on Twitter @DSherwoodSJ

This article originally appeared on Salina Journal: Kansas Wesleyan's DeVante' Gabriel making an impact at linebacker