Native Columbus actor wrapping up fourth season as quarterback on TV’s ‘All American’

ACTOR Michael Evans Behling someday wants to run straight into a superhero film role and score big. But he will sideline such a hope for now while his current CW television show, “All American” wraps up its fourth season Saturday and heads into a fifth.

Columbus native Behling, 26, plays fictitious Beverly Hills High School graduate and Golden Angels University Condors quarterback Jordan Baker. He laughed when asked during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles if Saturday’s final episode of the season had to close rather open-ended to make room for a new season.

Similar to cutting away from a televised tie game with 15 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

“I personally think every episode has to end in a cliffhanger just to keep people coming back,” Behling said. “My character goes through something that springboards him into new routes and relationships. Near the end, we’ll see pieces of Jordan that we haven’t seen in at least a season.

“… And I think viewers are really going to appreciate that we’re returning to the very roots of the show, which is football.”

The series is inspired by the life of former NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger, who played six-plus seasons in the NFL, including four with the New York Giants, two with the Miami Dolphins and three games with the Carolina Panthers.

Behling, who played football wide receiver as a junior and ran track several years at Columbus North High School, got his television start in a bit part as a “handsome dude” on Fox’s “Empire” series in 2017. Then he landed the “All American” role of the cocky team leader in 2018.

“I’m now a lot more comfortable and confident in what I’m doing,” he said, especially since he did no theater in high school, as many from Columbus have done before appearing in TV and film. “And I’ve been through my share of trials and tribulations regarding my personal life and my health.”

The latter is especially important for his character known for his sculpted, 6-foot-2-inch physique. Yet Behling has appeared on talk shows such as “Young Hollywood” scarfing doughnuts. He swore that was no act.

“Oh, I do like doughnuts,” he said. “But then I go the gym and burn it off.”

Maybe even sweeter for Behling are his memories of how locals supported him and motivated him here while he was a teen.

“I think almost everything that we go through helps shape us into who we are at this very moment,” Behling said.

He heaped praise on Jamie Brinegar, his former assistant track coach, and Lou Sipe, his former head track coach.

“Those two guys allowed me to come on after I left school (after graduation) while I was modeling and trying to find my way,” Behling said, adding that he worked with hurdlers. “And they allowed me to give back to the track athletes. That was a really fun time.

“And they always allowed me the space to ask questions about life in general.”

Brinegar, who visited Behling in Los Angeles three years ago, gushes about the actor as “one of my favorite people” for his realness and upbeat ways.

“In high school, he always was so positive,” Brinegar said. “So Lou and I both were thrilled when he wanted to help out with the team. And he was great to have back because he was such a great role model for the high school kids.”

These days, he gives back through a student mental health campaign via American Eagle, and by supporting causes such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

He keeps in touch with Columbus area friends by engaging them in video games of Madden football, and tries to get home two to three times per year to visit family. Occasionally, he gets recognized when he’s out in public. He’s still unaccustomed to it.

“It can be a little weird the first few times it happens,” he said.

Yet, if Behling has his way in the future, he could be calling more of his own signals. And living a bit of the superhero life.