After struggling to stay healthy throughout his first couple years in Fort Collins, Kevin Davis evolved into one of the nation’s most productive linebackers for Colorado State, recording 211 tackles, 25.5 of which were for a loss over his junior and senior seasons.
Recently, the Rams impact linebacker traveled to St. Petersburg Florida, where he capped off his collegiate career in the 2017 East-West Shrine Game. Playing as a representative of the West team, Davis finished third on the squad with five tackles.
“It was an awesome opportunity to show that a lot of my hard work has paid off through the years,” Davis said. “I had a pretty successful last two seasons, so getting the invite was icing on the cake for my senior year.”
Davis finished the 2016 season eighth in the Mountain West in total tackles (110) and was only one of three NCAA FBS players with an interception, 100-plus tackles, multiple sacks and multiple forced fumbles. For his efforts, Davis earned second-team All-Conference honors, and the opportunity to play in the nation’s oldest college football all-star game with some of the nation’s elite talent.
Some of the Davis’ Shrine Game teammates included former foes such as Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette, who finished the day with a modest two catches for 11 yards, but impressed many reporters and scouts throughout the week. Robinette also made an impression on Davis, who listed the former Falcon first when asked about players that performed well throughout the week. “He was catching everything all week,” Davis said.
Despite playing for bitter rivals, Davis enjoyed the opportunity to suit up with Robinette and a variety of former collegiate rivals, including San Diego State’s Calvin Munson and multiple University of Colorado defenders.
Davis explained that he already trains with some of the guys in Denver, but that they all became closer through this experience. Davis also spoke on how this year’s Shrine Game was an opportunity to put both the Front Range and Mountain West football on the map.
“There’s big talk about the Power 5 vs. the Group of 5 and all that, but I mean we were definitely as good as guys from the big schools, guys from Michigan and places like that,” Davis said. “Jalen (Robinette) got called up to the Senior Game because he had a great week. I don’t think there is really a difference between us and the Power 5 guys.”
Along with a chance for collegiate stars to play in front of NFL coaches and scouts, the Shrine Game provides an opportunity for soon to be prominent professional players to give back to their community.
Created by the Shriners in 1925, the annual game is designed to raise money in support of Shriners Hospitals for Children. According to the official East-West Shrine Game website, “More than one million children have benefitted from Shriners Hospitals’ unique way of providing hope and healing, regardless of the families’ ability to pay for services.”
“It was truly an awesome experience,” Davis said, referring to the chance to work with Shriners Hospitals for Children. “Just to see how lucky we all are. A lot of these kids are sick or have some sort of disability…I didn’t really know much about it all, but it was really cool to learn all about what the hospitals do. Kids never have to pay for their treatment, which is amazing. Just to hear their stories and be with them, it was definitely one of the highlights of my week.”
Although the Shrine Game does not exactly make up for the Bowl loss, in provided an opportunity for one of the Rams most productive defenders to compete with some of the best talent across the board and cap off a successful collegiate career with a victory.
Davis does not know where his next stop will be or if a team will draft him this spring, but whatever happens, he is ready for the challenge. More than anything, Davis is just excited for the opportunity to try, and to keep playing football.
Collegian sports reporter Justin Michael can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @JustinTMichael.