KENNEWICK -- Joey Hew Len has always been planning for the future.
After finishing up his teaching degree from Southern Utah, Hew Len returned home to the Sacramento, Calif., area to start getting his teaching credentials. That was how his life was supposed to go: he was going to teach and coach.
For some reason, a few years later, teaching and coaching is once again his backup plan. Hew Len has recommitted himself to playing football and rekindled his dreams of one day playing on the biggest stage. And with each passing game, the Fever receiver appears to be getting that much closer to that dream.
Hew Len has emerged as the Fever's go-to receiver and is proving himself as a top tier receiver in the Indoor Football League this season. And he has done it with modest goals.
"I just want to be a dependable receiver that the team can count on," Hew Len said.
He has done more than that. Hew Len, who was released by the Spokane Shock right before the start of the Arena Football League in 2010, ranks in the top 10 in the IFL in several receiving categories, which includes ranking second in touchdown catches with nine.
"There is no doubt that he is an AFL caliber-type guy," Fever coach Adam Shackleford said.
Hew Len's rise to being one of the team leaders and back into football has been rather unassuming -- quiet in nature just like Hew Len. The soft-spoken receiver, who is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, gave up the game and was ready to turn the page in his life. But it turned out not to be that easy.
Hew Len heard of an open tryout for the Shock in the Los Angeles area, and decided to give it a try. He had been out of the game for nearly a year. A couple of weeks after the tryout, he got a phone call and was signed to the Shock's training camp roster.
At that point, getting back into the game seemed rather simple. But like everything else for Hew Len, it took some perseverance and a little trust to make things work.
A week before the season started, Hew Len was released by the Shock, and his football career appeared to be over for a second time. He went back home to resume his teaching and coaching career.
Then came a phone call from Shackleford.
Shackleford had never seen Hew Len play or watched any film of him, but he was quick to offer him a roster spot.
"I knew he could come here and help us out," Shackleford said.
Hew Len ended up playing in seven games last year for the Fever and had just 13 catches for less than 200 yards and one touchdown. But those lackluster numbers still put Hew Len on Shackleford's list of three or four players that he wanted back for the 2011 season.
"He's a hard worker," Shackleford said. "He's a good route runner, he's reliable, he's consistent, and has a big body."
This season it's easy to see why Hew Len was a must-sign in the offseason.
Now the question is, "How much longer will he be in the Tri-Cities?"