Professor makes journey from star quarterback to religion instructor

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Lincoln Blumell was a good athlete, a good student and an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like some LDS male athletes, Blumell was torn between pursuing a career in college athletics and going on a mission — the first decision he would have to make concerning sports and church.

However, a tragic loss would help him make up his mind during a summer all-star baseball game.

“We were warming up between an inning because there had been a rain delay. I was playing catch with a teammate, Matt Crol. We were throwing and talking and we were fairly close to each other, only 30 feet away,” Blumell recalls. “Then there was a crack and the next thing I know I was on my back wondering what was going on. Matt’s shredded hat had blown over to me and he had been hit by lightning and was killed instantaneously. I decided right then and there that no matter what, I was going on a mission.”

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Lincoln Blumell was a top college football quarterback in Canada, but instead of going pro he came to BYU to teach religion.

The decision to serve the Lord in the England London South mission left Blumell uncertain of his athletic future, but the choice to serve would ultimately lead Blumell to several blessings. He earned a scholarship to play football, married his sweetheart Melissa and is currently a BYU professor teaching religion.

At age 21, Blumell was a star quarterback for the University of Calgary and was preparing himself to enter into the business profession. After taking an introductory Bible course, Blumell’s life plans changed drastically.

“Like a lot of young men I originally planned on majoring in business, but then I took an intro to the Bible class and became very interested in studying ancient texts and the languages they were written in,” Blumell said.

While he continued to stand out in the classroom, Blumell also dominated on the football field, leading the Dinos to multiple playoff appearances. Juggling athletics, academics and a family was something Blumell tackled on a daily basis despite his busy schedule.

“There was not a lot of time for anything outside of his studies and athletics,” Melissa said. “He is very ambitious and has a unique ability to focus on a number of things at once and balance a lot of different things in his life that a lot of people are not able to do.”

In his final year of eligibility, Blumell geared up to start the first game of the season. He completed a 98-yard pass to Jamie Elliot, the longest in University of Calgary history, on the opening drive of the 2001 season. But the excitement after this remarkable play would abruptly come to an end. On his second drive, Blumell tore the ligaments on his throwing hand, and the injury ended his season. Because of the timing of his injury, Blumell was able to come back for one last successful season with the Dinos.

After completing a master’s degree and finishing his final season, Blumell decided to further his education instead of pursue a career in the Canadian Football League.

“He knew pursuing his studies was more realistic and would provide a more stable occupation, but there has always been a spiritual influence that has driven him,” Melissa said.

Like he had done so many times before, Blumell followed his heart and went on to receive a doctorate degree from Oxford University.

“It is nice to have a religion professor who understands so much of the academic and historical side of the New Testament,” said John Lopez, a math major from Concord, Calif. “This is the second time I have taken a class from [Dr. Blumell] and I really like him.”

Blumell was offered a positition at BYU and began his teaching career here in the Fall of 2010. Many of his students have said he captivates the minds of BYU students with his knowledge and love for the scriptures.

“I learn things that I never get out of the scriptures by myself,” said Devan Spencer, a junior from South Jordan, “but [Blumell’s] class has helped me see new things.”

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