They Were in a Hurry to Find Out What Took Davidson So Long
BY JAY GREENBERG
Kevin Davidson lost exact count of the approximate 2/3 of NFL teams who interviewed him during his week at the East-West Shrine Bowl, but not of how many of those clubs wanted to know why he didn’t start until senior year: Every single one.
It wasn’t that they had never heard of Chad Kanoff ’18 and John Lovett ’19, two and one years removed from the evaluation process themselves. Kanoff spent the season on the Bucs’ practice squad, Lovett on Chiefs’ injured reserve. As these evaluators took their turns with Davidson, they wanted to know how he awaited his.
“The thing they loved to hear was that I was behind great players at this level and I was ready to go when my name was called,” said Davidson on Sunday. “That’s going to transfer to the next level because you are not always going to be a starter your first year.”
“They wanted to see how I handled those three years. At some point, you know you could be on the field having success and that was my mindset. But Johnny and Chad were established and we were all super close and I learned everything I could from them and had a positive attitude, knowing I would be absolutely prepared when the opportunity came.”
“They wanted to hear my story coming from high school too. [An aborted school] transfer affected my playing time then as well. My high school story is really kind of too crazy to believe. One GM wanted to hear it from me rather than from the area scout.”
“They were interested in that because, coming from Princeton and being a quarterback, they want to make sure I could relate to everybody on the team. Me going to a high school in Oakland (Calif.) and being around guys like Marshawn Lynch, Marcus Peters and Josh Johnson, they found intriguing my ability to lead players from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. That’s considered a big positive.”
It apparently did not hurt Davidson’s chances to be in the NFL next season that he missed pictures and a practice Friday in order to take a final in geology. “To the players, they were like ‘Gosh, that’s the most Princeton thing I’ve ever heard,” he said.
We will assume he passed the exam. Geology, we mean, not the week in St. Pete, which already seems apparent from the media reviews and vibes Davidson received from the interviews. Even some of the LSU and Clemson guys never talked to any GMs, not a one of which needed to ask Davidson in what league Princeton plays and if it is any good.
Thee were 16 Ivy Leaguers active late in this NFL season, including four – Seth DeValve ’16, Jesper Horsted ’19, Stephen Carlson ’19 and Caraun Reid ’14 – from Princeton. Dartmouth safety Isaiah Swann accompanied Davidson to the Shrine Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida, as did Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings, although Rawlings left early for undisclosed reasons. Jesper Horsted played in the event a year ago. Davidson hardly was an object of curiosity.
“From the scouts, there was nothing like, ‘You must be pretty smart and probably aren’t very athletic so why aren’t you going to work on Wall Street?” said Davidson. “It was an even playing field for me against all the others because of the Ivy players before me.”
“What I would hear from guys from schools like Clemson and LSU, was,‘Wow the Ivy League is really coming up.’
“I outperformed a lot of the FBS guys, in the scouts’ opinions. They were happy to have me there and I think it raised my draft stock quite a bit. The game is irrelevant to a lot of scouts; that’s what they said. The timing is off; kids run their own routes. That happened a few time. But it still was a lot of fun.”
Sharing quarterback duties for the East squad with James Morgan of Florida International and Tommy Stevens of Mississippi State, Davidson went 6 for 11 for 51 yards.
He suffered an interception that was overturned because the target – Mason Kinsey of Berry University had been held on the play. Another hold denied Davidson a completion on an over the middle throw, but the quarterback completed a 32 yard slant to Josh Hammond of Florida to get to the West 12, before suffering a drop on a 3rd and 8. The East settled for a field goal.
On Davidson’s second drive, he threw two completions to Kinsey before a 3rd down pass went through the hands of Florida State’s Keith Gavin. On his final series, in the 4th quarter, Davidson suffered a no chance sack on a 3rd down.
Could have been better, could have been worse, but none of this was make or break, all just part of a process that has included Davidson’s selection of representation – Sportstars Inc. of New York City –and four to five times a week sessions with Phil and Matt Simms at their Complete Quarterback Camp.
A Pro Day at Princeton, to be shared with Graham Adomitis, Ryan Quigley and two Tigers a year removed who want to take a shot – Charlie Volker and Cody Smith – will be held probably in March.
Advice and support from Kanoff and Lovett is ongoing plus Princeton football alum notables like Michael Lerch ’93, Keith Ducker ’93, Todd Crockett ’92 and Chad Roghair ’92 have all been confidants of Davidson.
A late invitation to the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is still a possibility, where classic pocket passers like Davidson have not gone out of style, the success of Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray notwithstanding.
“Jackson and Murray are great but how many of them are out there?” said Princeton quarterback coach Mark Rosenbaum, who spent a day with Davidson in Florida. “There are a lot of coordinators in the NFL who would say that too: ‘We would love to have a guy like that.'”
“But there’s still a place for a prototypical pocket passer and some [teams] who would prefer it. I’m just telling you what guys who came to Princeton this season to watch Kevin tell me. They see how big he is and how well he can throw.”
DeValve was the last Tiger drafted, going the fourth round in 2016, Carlson, Lovett and Kanoff signed deals an hour after the 2019 draft and Horsted would have had one, too if not for a hamstring pull suffered on Princeton’s Pro Day holding back a time in the 40 the Bears insisted on seeing. None of these Tigers felt left at the altar when the last pick was made, all knew offers were imminent. A little bidding on Undrafted Free Agents can even sweeten the pot. But the goal is to get picked.
“Ultimately my agent will do a great job of advising me, but the best track is being drafted,” said Davidson. “It means they are spending one of their seven or eight picks on you.”
“Getting drafted is the goal.”