Recently, I was able to talk to NFL Quarterback prospect and former Princeton Tiger, Kevin Davidson. Davidson had an incredible senior season where he finished with a QB rating of 153 as well as throwing 20 touchdowns and setting a Princeton single game record for most touchdowns thrown with 7 against Bucknell. This strong finish to his college career caught the eyes of NFL scouts which gave him the opportunity to compete at the NFL combine as well as the East/West Shrine game. Some of the topics talked about include his experiences competing with other top prospects throughout the draft process, his college career, some of his former teammates at Princeton, and what he offers at the next level.
Kevin Davidson (QB) – Princeton
John McCafferty: You are a West Oakland kid, from California, tell me how you ended up playing football all the way in Jersey for Princeton?
Kevin Davidson: When I transferred to McClymond’s Highschool I wanted to go to a place where football was the entire culture of the school, of course academics were important. The football coach was Michael Peters whose Marcus Peters father, the ravens star cornerback, and was around guys like Marshawn Lynch and Josh Johnson and it was just an incredible opportunity and I decided to go my junior year of high school. I played in four games, I threw for 21 touchdowns and a little bit over 1,100 yards and had so much fun with this new team I was around and really enjoyed myself and what ended up happening was all the teams who we played and who we beat pretty badly, decided to complain that I was at that school since it was only 30 minutes from my home town. “Why is he transferring to a different public school”. A lot of kids transferred to private school with no issues but since this was public to public everyone kind of raised their eye brows as to why I was going to this place so long story short, the state of California got involved and ended up suspending me for a year from high school athletics in general. So I went there to play football and basketball, this was where Bill Russel went to high school so a really good basketball program as well and another reason I choose this place. So the state of California ended up suspending me for one sports calendar year and made me go back to my old high school so that was tough with recruiting and my love of the game because football was everything to me and still is and it really broke me to have to hang the cleats up for that year but it obviously built me as a person and who I am today. This is what kind of led me to Princeton was after my recruiting was hurt I was looking at these schools in California and it got brought down a little bit so I turned to the Ivy league and it definitely widened my horizon on where I wanted to go to school.
JM: What were some of the other schools that you considered before the suspension came up?
KD: So, as the suspension happened, I had a couple offers from schools in California. San Diego, and UC Davis who was a program known to send some NFL guys at the quarterback position, so I ended up committing to UC Davis. I thought that was a great fit and I thought that if all else fails I have a great place to attend, with a full ride scholarship and so that is where I was committed before I ended up flipping to Princeton but I had a few other bigger schools get involved throughout the process but more lowkey since I was committed at that point but I definitely talked to a bunch who wanted me at their program.
JM: You mentioned earlier your connections with Marcus Peters and Josh Johnson, I also read that you have a relationship with Marshawn Lynch, have those guys reached out to you at all and offered any advice to you going onto the next level?
KD: Yea, I talked to Josh before the shrine game and the combine and was able to talk to him on the phone for a while just getting feedback and learning from his experience, he actually won the MVP at the shrine game and then got the combine invite, he said that he definitely had some regrets from the combine so that was really interesting learning from him, he said his confidence was super high and then when he went to combine and wished he did some things differently. So Josh is just an awesome guy, he has been in just about every system you can be in the NFL, for about 11 teams, now he got some time in the XFL and he definitely is going to work his way back into the NFL. Marshawn, I talked to before the combine and more recently when he choose to come speak at Princeton’s commencement for graduation day before which ended up blowing up a little bit after a couple students complained and ended up talking about that too. So they both have been really helpful throughout this process as well as Matt Simms who is doing my quarterback training for this process, who’s up in North Jersey. He was with the Falcons and he is a Quarterback who has been through it, been in the Simms family with his dad playing forever and he has just been around football so much, so his perspective is always very valuable.
JM: So before you got a chance to really prove yourself and breakout your senior year at Princeton, you had to sit for three years behind some really good quarterbacks like John Lovett and Chad Kanoff who both got chances in the NFL, was there ever a time where it was frustrating where you thought you should be out there on the field or were you able to just accept your role and wait for your chance to start?
KD: Yea, both of those guys were really well established before I stepped onto campus so I had an understanding that I was definitely behind them but that did not hold me back from wanting to be on the field as much as I could and I think that was really evident to the coaches who kept telling me, “Hey settle down, you know your role” and that is something more recently as I talked to more coaches that has moved on from the program. I had three different offensive coordinators, one who is a head coach at Brown now, one who was the OC at Oklahoma state and now at Rutgers. I got a chance to talk with them more recently and their feedback was always “hey, you’re throwing better than these guys, but there the ones who are going to help us win games right now and your developing so use this time to learn the most you can”. I always really took that to heart and realized that they had my best interest in mind and I think that helped me a lot to grow as a person. At the NFL you have to be patient because you are not going to go in there and start right away and you have to be ready which I think I showed at Princeton because my junior year. John went down with a wrist injury and they were not sure if he was going to play all the way up until the day before the game and so they were like “hey you are probably going to start tomorrow so be ready” and I prepared every week like I was the starter so I really did not have to change much and ended up having a lot of success. That week which was my first start at Princeton so that built my confidence and I think that just being patient and being ready to go at all times was what I learned most in college which I think could be very valuable at the next level.
JM: So looking back at your career at Princeton, you certainly finished on a high note with 20 touchdowns, a 153 passer rating as well as setting the Princeton single game record for touchdowns thrown with 7 in your senior season so looking back at your career is there one game that really stands out to you that you will remember for the rest of your life?
KD: Yea, I think the Harvard game. That is one that was really just an incredible team win where we really bonded together. Harvard is a team where we have gotten blown out a couple times in the past 10 years and it is always because of the mentality that we carry going into it, there always big and strong like NFL guys and sometimes Princeton does not always show up ready to fight and win. We started out the game with a double move play from the slot, we ran a 12 yard out and up and it ended up going for 55 and I think that really set the tone right away. That’s something that I talked about with the coaches was like we need to get on these guys right away just because when I was sitting the previous three years, when we did win, that’s what happened, that’s why we won because we got on them and we didn’t act scared. Then my first year we played them, you could definitely tell in the first half that we were being cautious and really trying to field our way out. But yea that game was special. We converted on so many third and longs later down the stretch in the game, they threw a lot of different converges at us that we did not expect, and a lot of different blitzes that we didn’t expect so I was just really proud of the team on how we adapted and overcame to get the win.
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