WASHINGTON, D.C. — Most school days, Kevin Doyle gets up, along with teammate Brayden Bapst, for the long ride from Delaplane, Va., to St. John’s College High (Washington, D.C.). The ride back is a little better, but after practice, that means he often doesn’t get back to his host family’s home until after dark.
It could be a grind, but it also means that this Friday he will start at quarterback for the No. 18-ranked Cadets, on ESPNU, as they play at No. 7 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) at 11 p.m. (ET) as part of the GEICO ESPN High School Football Showcase. If he had remained at Malvern (Pa.) Prep, and at home with his family in West Chester, Pa., he would be playing St. Augustine (Richland, N.J.), the No. 20-ranked team in New Jersey this week.
“I’m living with the Bapsts (Randy and Cynthia, along with their sons Brayden and Tristan),” Doyle said. “Brayden (a junior) plays defensive end and tight end for us. They have been great having me stay with them and with open arms welcomed me. I wake up at 4:30 a.m., we leave the house right before 6 and get to school around 7:20. It’s definitely a haul and I knew that coming in. I enjoy it. I’ve adapted to it. People say it is tough, but when you choose it, it’s just a way of life.”
St. John’s has a solid academic reputation. So does Malvern Prep, but St. John’s also has a schedule that includes five Super 25-ranked teams: De La Salle; No. 2 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.); No. 5 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.); No. 10 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) and No. 20 St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.). Before he came to St. John’s in January, Doyle was already getting major offers, but the interest has picked up since. According to 247Sports.com’s composite rankings, he’s considered the No. 21 pro-style passer in the 2018 class, but he wants to be considered among the elite quarterbacks. Playing for St. John’s and respected coach Joe Casamento could help.
“He has been selfless and has blended in,” Casamento said. “He’s a good role model, so the kids believe in him and so they follow him. He wants to know this stuff. I have a lot of good young receivers in the same situation so we’re teaching a lot of the same basic stuff to five or six kids.”
In his first game with the Cadets last week, Doyle completed 18 of 21 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-30 defeat of Jones (Orlando). De La Salle will be a tougher opponent, but that’s what Doyle wants.
“People notice the physical stuff, first, that’s natural,” said his quarterback coach, Marcus Hammond of Next Level Greats Football Club in Marlton, N.J. “He’s 6-4 and 210 pounds and has a really strong arm. To me, the biggest difference is he’s such a competitor. There are times we would have quarterback training for 7-on-7 and guys would get to talking and Kevin wants to go one-on-one with them on the basketball court. He wants to go throw for throw with them and will race them. I don’t think he even wants to lose in tic-tac-toe. That competitiveness drives him from where he was as a ninth-grader to where he is now.”
The private-school Inter-Ac League that Malvern was in didn’t offer the same level of competition that some other elite quarterbacks were facing. Because of that, Doyle didn’t shy from competing at various camps and combines. Doyle’s father, Kevin Doyle Sr., said his son was doing several tests with other quarterbacks during a camp in July 2016 at Ole Miss. The drills were taking place indoors, at the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center. Standing at the 50-yard line, Kevin asked how far the opposite wall was. It was more than 70 yards, so he was told it didn’t matter, that he couldn’t reach it. So, he threw it off the wall and then did it again. Ole Miss offered on the spot.
“Yes, I’m very competitive,” Doyle said. “I’ve always been a taller kid growing up, so playing with older kids, kids my size, I was always competitive. I can remember playing kids in my neighborhood in pickup basketball and Wiffle ball who were in the sixth grade and I was in the fourth grade or third grade. Learning to compete has always been with me, whether it’s chess or racing my little brother to the car. There are no ‘letting him wins’ there. I enjoy competing because it teaches you a lot about yourself. You can learn to lose or learn how to not lose.”
Doyle said the expanded St. John’s family has helped him make the adjustment to playing away from home for an elite team. Sometimes, to reduce the commute, he and Bapst, a junior defensive end-tight end, will spend the night at the house of junior defensive lineman Deen Bakir in Great Falls, Va. Casamento, who won a state title in 2004 at Christian Brothers Academy (DeWitt, N.Y.) in 2004 with quarterback Greg Paulus, has also been patient.
“The whole team has been welcoming in general,” Doyle said. “There are guys here from every walk of life. Guys from D.C., guys from Great Falls, from Chevy Chase, but we all get along and we’re all there for the same reason, to win football games. We all bond over that. I can’t say I know the whole offense because we’re only in week two. Coach Casamento has done a great job of instilling in us what we need to do. Like any high school team, they will add plays every week. Whatever I’ve been coached, I’ll know. Whatever we are going to run in Week 7, I don’t know.”
Unlike many of the top quarterbacks, he doesn’t plan to enroll early in college.
“Right now, I’m just focused on the season,” Doyle said. “Coach (Casamento) has told me to focus on the season and do well and I will have an exponential amount of college opportunities open up. Going early, that ship has sailed, but waiting is opening up a lot more doors for me.”