Justin Bethel ’12 of Blythewood, S.C., will be named the recipient of 2017 Outstanding Young Alumnus award from Presbyterian College at a ceremony during Homecoming festivities. This award is designed to honor an alumnus who displays early competence within the chosen field of endeavor and exceptional promise of future achievement.
While a student at PC, Bethel’s multiple passions flourished via his liberal arts education. While he practiced as a fighting Blue Hose on the football field, he also played drums in jazz and pep band while pursuing a degree in business administration. Bethel missed tryouts for middle school band and decided to try out for football instead. That wasn’t the end of his interest in music, but it was the beginning of a sports career that would take him to the NFL via Presbyterian College. As a starting cornerback for the fighting Blue Hose, he was named to the Big South Conference All-Conference Second-Team Defensive squad and would become the first Blue Hose to be drafted into the League since 1969.
In the 2012 NFL Draft, Bethel was selected as the 177 overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals. It was an unlikely path to the NFL because he didn’t grow up playing sports. Bethel was raised in a family of musicians where he and his two brothers started a band known as The House of Bethel. “I didn’t grow up liking sports. My family and I were always into music,” Bethel said. “I didn’t really start watching football until my senior year in college.” It wasn’t until his high school coach Jeff Scott moved to PC and recruited him for the football team. “I wanted to go to a school where I could get a good education while playing football,” he said.
Since 2012, Bethel played as a special teamer for the Arizona Cardinals, being selected three out of four years to play in the Pro Bowl in that position. The past two years, he has also played the cornerback position, earning the starting role this season. He is the ninth player ever drafted out of Presbyterian College to the NFL and 1st to ever be selected to a Pro Bowl. Bethel has also lived out the motto of PC by giving back to his alma mater, having been inducted in 2016 into the William Plumer Jacobs Society and advanced to the President’s Level, recognizing lifetime giving in excess of $250,000. The College dedicated the Bethel Hydrotherapy Room in the Kemper D. Lake Sports Medicine Facility last year. In addition to supporting the Neville Renewed Campaign, Bethel also continues to support the CHAMPS program, the PC Fund, and the Scotsman Club at leadership levels.