Travis Sinclair ’22 Looks to Break New Ground for Bethel in the NFL

After a standout college football career at Bethel, Travis Sinclair ’22 is looking to become the first former Royal to make it to the NFL. Since December, the offensive lineman has trained at an elite facility with top recruits, played in a showcase game, and displayed his skills at a recent pro day ahead of the NFL draft.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, content specialist

April 11, 2023 | 10:30 a.m.

Travis Sinclair ’22

Travis Sinclair ’22 has been preparing for the NFL draft at the Training HAUS, an elite performance facility in Eagan, Minnesota. As he has trained with a subgroup of offensive linemen, he’s been able to hone his positional skills. “It’s good to be with those talented guys, be able to learn from them a little bit, maybe give them a few ideas while we’re training,” Sinclair says. Photo courtesy of the Training HAUS

On March 15, Travis Sinclair ’22 took the field as the only Division III football player at the University of Minnesota Gophers’ Pro Day. He showcased his skills in front of scouts from all 32 NFL teams along with Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell. “The exposure he got was unlike anything we have had before,” says Chad Richards ’97, an assistant football coach at Bethel.

Sinclair is hoping to break ground by becoming the first Bethel Royal selected in the NFL draft or signed to an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent. Last fall, Sinclair finished a decorated career at Bethel, helping the Royals reach the NCAA playoff quarterfinals in his final season while becoming the second Bethel player ever named to the Associated Press All-America First Team, among other accolades. Since graduating in December, he’s worked diligently to refine his skills for a chance at the NFL. “It’s just a cool experience that I’m trying to soak in,” he says. “Because you never really know with this career how long it will last.”

The pro day is just the tip of the iceberg of Sinclair’s preparations for the April 27-29 NFL draft. In December, he started training at the Training HAUS, an elite performance facility in Eagan, Minnesota. “We get after it,” says Sinclair, who has loved the intense training—three or four sessions a day, six days a week. Richards describes the Training HAUS as some of the best training in the country. It's led by former NFL players and puts Sinclair alongside players preparing to be early-round draft picks. “Travis feels like he belongs there, which says a lot,” Richards says. Sinclair and about a dozen recruits from Minnesota and around the country have worked to elevate their skills to the pro level. To Sinclair, the biggest difference is speed—everything is faster, requiring him to be clean in his technique and fundamentals. Listed at 6 feet, 4 inches tall and 320 pounds, Sinclair looks the part of an NFL offensive lineman, but he wants to show that he’s an athlete who can blend power, speed, and technique.
Travis Sinclair ’22

At Bethel, Assistant Coach Chad Richards ’97 says Travis Sinclair ’22 was a great student and football player because of the time and effort he dedicated to both. “Travis jumped into everything that was asked of him and gave it his all,” Richards says. “He didn't miss class, he didn't miss practice, he didn't miss a lift. It was because of this dedication that he has put himself into this position of playing at the next level.” Photo courtesy of the Training HAUS

The training helped prepare Sinclair to showcase his skills. First, he played at the January College Gridiron Showcase, where he played in front of scouts from most NFL teams and many from the XFL, CFL, and European teams. March’s pro day was another major step. Sinclair says he put up good numbers and performed well in his position work, and his trainers heard scouts saying positive things. “Overall, I thought it went well for me!” he says, adding that both events led to him connecting with NFL scouts and coaches.

Though he loved football from an early age and frequently played backyard football, Sinclair didn’t play competitively until shortly before high school. His mom, a music teacher, stressed piano and trombone lessons first. When he asked her if he could play football instead, she was hesitant. He convinced her and instantly loved it. “You just get to run around with some of your buddies, and you get to hit some people a little bit,” he says. “You get to play football basically like you would in the backyard.” He chose Bethel because it offered him the chance to play football in a strong program and study mechanical engineering. He also loves that he got to attend a faith-based university. “Now I’m very glad that it ended up being Bethel because it’s allowed me to grow that a lot more,” he says of his faith.
Travis Sinclair ’22

While Travis Sinclair ’22 is getting attention for his skills on the football field, Head Football Coach Steve Johnson ’79 commends Sinclair for the type of man he is. “He became a leader and teacher. He loves the Lord, football, and his teammates,” Johnson says. Assistant Coach Chad Richards ’97 agrees. “He is a great player because he works at it. He is a great teammate and friend because he genuinely cares. He is a great man of character because he is disciplined,” Richards says. “He is strong in his faith because he makes it a priority.”

Early at Bethel, Head Football Coach Steve Johnson ‘79 says Sinclair “just wanted to maul everyone he played against,” but he became a diligent learner who developed his technique and wisdom for the game. When Sinclair approached his coaches about a football career after Bethel, Richards moved him from left tackle to left guard, thinking it would provide more professional opportunities. Working with coaches and training staff, Sinclair upped the intensity of his weight room workouts and became very serious about his nutrition and sleep. Sinclair was named a pre-season all-American before the 2022 season, and he kept getting positive feedback from Bethel and opposing coaches. After the season, he hired an agent. Johnson is pleased to have witnessed Sinclair’s journey and development, and credits Sinclair for his growth under Richards’ tutelage. “He was good immediately. He became great when he humbled himself to learn and helped his teammates grow,” Johnson says. As Sinclair awaits his chance, Richards commends him for his hard work and dedication to improvement. “It took him four-plus years of work to become the player that he is,” Richards says. “It was a painstaking process that required a tremendous amount of time and reps.” Through that hard work, Richards says Sinclair built himself into one of the best guards in the country. “We have had some really good offensive linemen over the years, including a few that had the potential to play at the next level, but Travis is the most prepared offensive lineman I have coached in my time at Bethel,” Richards says. 

To date, no Bethel alumnus has been drafted or made an NFL roster, but several have gotten close. In 2019, defensive end Kyle Kilgore ’18 and safety Dawson Brown ’18 each attended rookie minicamps, Kilgore with the Vikings and Brown with the Atlanta Falcons. Others came before. But Sinclair is hopeful he can break through and pave the way for fellow Bethel alumni. “Hopefully I can do the best I can for myself and for the program,” he says. Johnson admits it’s very difficult to reach the NFL, but he thinks Sinclair has a chance. While he notes Sinclair’s size, quickness, athleticism, and intelligence, he sees some of his best traits as the intangibles—his character, determination, and football instincts. “Travis is very bright, works extremely hard, and has a willingness to fight through hard things,” Johnson says. “He is stubborn in a good way.”

“We have had some really good offensive linemen over the years, including a few that had the potential to play at the next level, but Travis is the most prepared offensive lineman I have coached in my time at Bethel."

— Chad Richards ’97, an assistant football coach at Bethel
Johnson says Sinclair has a strong base to fall back on—his education. Despite his recent focus on football, Sinclair is already using his degree. Along with many football accolades, Sinclair earned Academic All-MIAC honors, which are given to students with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher. After interning at Bell Lumber and Pole Co., he’s continued working part-time as an engineer and is thankful that company leaders have been flexible and allowed him to work remotely while training. “It’s been a really huge blessing,” he says. “I’ve been able to use my degree and get a little real-world experience with it.”
Travis Sinclair ’22

Travis Sinclair ’22 hopes to be the Bethel player to break through and open the door for others. He wants to showcase the talent on Bethel’s football team. “I’m just trying to do the best that I can for myself, but then also kind of trying to show, hey, Bethel’s got some talent coming forward,” Sinclair says. “And you know, maybe if I can do something special it opens the way up for another guy, another two guys down the road.” Photo courtesy of the Training HAUS

Looking ahead, Sinclair doesn’t know what will happen. He doesn’t know what his life will look like even in a few months, but he’s trying to remain open-minded and flexible. “Stuff changes really quickly,” he says. “We’re just trying to keep an open mind going into this. Just kind of seeing where it will take me and what God has for it.” While everyone in the Bethel football program would be ecstatic for Sinclair to make a pro team, Richards says they’re all already proud of him and grateful for the mark he left at Bethel. “He has made us better, and that is something that is true whether or not he makes it in the professional ranks or moves on and becomes a phenomenal engineer,” Richards says.

No matter what happens, Sinclair is living out his dreams. “It’s just a cool experience and a cool journey, you know what I mean?” he says. “It’s just been fun to be able to live out some little kid dreams you think about when you’re 8 years old, 9 years old in the backyard playing around with your brothers and friends.”

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