For one final time, Johnny Feauto had the chance to put on the jersey, shoulder pads and gear to play a football game. This time, however, it was in the biggest stadium he has played in: US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the home of the Minnesota Vikings.
Feauto was one of 100 players in Minneapolis last weekend to play in the All American Bowl. The game serves as a chance for the players to showcase their skills in front of scouts, and most of the players come from the smaller levels of collegiate play.
“It should be a fun game,” Feauto said prior to participating in the game. “Just getting on the field again, you never want to go out with a loss. All you want to do is to get back out there. It will be fun to meet some new people, play in a cool stadium and meet some scouts.”
Feauto, a former quarterback at Fairview High School, was chosen as one of the participants for the game after leading Kansas Wesleyan at the NAIA level for the past two seasons. He went 25-2 as the starting quarterback for the Coyotes, throwing for 7,362 yards and 90 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,270 yards and nine more scores.
The production on the field from Feauto helped Kansas Wesleyan win back-to-back conference titles in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conferences and make two playoff appearances in the NAIA Football Championship Series playoffs. After the season, he was named to the Associated Press NAIA All-America first team as the quarterback.
“That was really cool,” Feauto said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to get it. Seeing my name on that list is pretty cool.”
It was a couple of dream seasons for Feauto, but it came after a tough start to his collegiate career that included two prior stops and a murky future in football.
Feauto saw varsity action in three seasons with Fairview and had a respectable career in Tom McCartney’s system. When it came time to choose where to play, he made a commitment to stay in Colorado and play at Adams State University, a Division II school in Alamosa.
The transition was a difficult one for Feauto to make right away. He struggled finding the balance to play college football and maintaining his grades. His struggles resulted in him being ineligible to play.
A difficult decision would follow with Feauto choosing to transfer to Fullerton College, a community college program in California, for him to get on track academically and to play football once again.
“I took a semester off because I had some grade troubles at Adams State, and then went to Fullerton the following spring and played that fall,” Feauto said.
Feauto had some success at Fullerton, but more importantly he found what it would take to get his grades back up and be able to do both school and football at a high level. The price to pay, though, was finding yet another home to continue his academic and athletic career.
A visit with the coaching staff and Kansas Wesleyan sold Feauto enough to make an immediate commitment rather than looking at other options as well. The fit, he said, was perfect for the next chapter.
“I was going to go back to Fullerton and finish my spring semester there, but during winter break coach (Matt) Drinkall gave me a call and really wanted me to go there,” Feauto said. “He told me if I came there, I may not lose a game. That stood out to me. The next week I took a visit and then I committed on the spot.”
Once he got to Kansas Wesleyan, Feauto was able to put everything together as a student-athlete. He was able to balance the workload of maintaining his grades while playing and practicing with the team. He flourished on the field with the Coyotes, putting up big numbers and posting wins with his teammates.
One of the reasons Kansas Wesleyan was a perfect fit was because their system was similar to the spread offense he was used to running in high school and on his second stop in college.
“The offense they ran fit me perfectly,” Feauto said. “They ran an up-tempo spread like I ran at Fairview and Fullerton. It was something I’ve been doing for a long time.”
The pairing of him and running back Demarco Prewitt took the Coyotes to new heights on offense. Their best games came last fall when Kansas Wesleyan scored 90 points in a shutout win over the University of Saint Mary and 61 points in a win over Bethel College. The offense averaged more than 44 points per game during the season and was one of the highest-scoring offenses in the NAIA.
Figuring out the balance turned Feato into a star, culminating in his chance to play in the All American Bowl last weekend and to play in front of scouts. His future remains in playing football, and the goal now is to convince teams at home to give him a chance. If it does not happen, however, professional leagues overseas have already come to him about playing for them.
“I want to keep playing,” Feauto said. “I’m not sure what that will look like. I’ve gotten a couple of offers to go overseas and play, so that’s a good backup plan. There’s a league in Germany and a team talked to me and want a quarterback. It’s pretty cool and there are a lot of leagues in Europe, so that could be fun to do for a couple of years.”
He’ll be prepared for the next stage after a roller coaster of a career in college, one that ended on a positive note last weekend.
“It was a wild ride,” Feauto said. “It was not what I expected when I left for Adams State, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I grew up a lot. I had to go through some tough things and put my football career in perspective. I had to sit down and ask myself if this was something I really wanted to do. It was a crazy journey, but I ended up exactly where I needed to be.”