Every football player wants to get to Canton, Ohio — the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Although he has yet to play a snap of anything close to professional football, Yale’s Darren Davis will be putting his cleats in the football Mecca’s soil next fall. He’s not being enshrined into the Hall of Fame, but he will still see the dream of playing college football when he puts on the Malone University jersey.
“When I got to meet all the players, they made me feel like I was family,” Davis said. “I can tell on campus they hold each other accountable for what they do.”
During Yale’s 6-4 playoff season in the fall, Davis could be seen laying the wood down at tight end and defensive end for the Division II program. Next season, Davis will most likely exclusively line up at tight end, playing more of a blocking role than route-running.
“He’s a kid that is versatile,” Yale head coach Don Smeznik said. “He played a little bit of center for me too, so he’s going to be a good blocker for them and do good things for the line. He likes to compete and has a passion for the game.”
Darren’s dad, Jerry, mentioned that his son was toying with the idea of attending Malone even if he didn’t get a scholarship offer. The campus atmosphere and small class size was a big factor, but how the coaching staff cares more about football was a priceless bonus.
“One of the things I liked the most is where the players have a mandatory one hour meeting per week (with the coaches) where they don’t talk about football,” Jerry Davis said. “They would like to talk about life instead, too.”
The Pioneers won Davis’ commitment over Kalamazoo College and DePauw University, among other Division III schools. A swinging factor in the decision didn’t just rest with how his future teammates treated him, but also that the coaching staff made him feel like he was in the Malone family tree.
“I know I can go there and the coaches can be another father,” Davis said. “I see how they are with their players.”
Seeing a group of fatherly figures was poetic for Davis, who traveled campus-to-campus with his dad.
“As busy as he was and I am, we didn’t have a lot of chances to talk one-on-one,” Jerry Davis said. “Some of our best conversations came to and from colleges.”
With every mile they put on the pickup, the conversation would always grow to make sure the future Pioneer was ready to make the college leap.
“The car rides were always interesting,” Darren Davis recalls. “We would talk about life, making sure I knew it was a big step and it would be tough being a student-athlete.”
Since the Pioneers have lost a few tight ends due to transfers, Davis has a realistic shot of getting solid playing time. Even if he doesn’t see many snaps in his freshman season, Jerry Davis is excited to see his truck’s co-pilot experience the college life.
“I’m really excited to see him, even if he doesn’t play,” Jerry Davis said. “Im excited to see what college does to him as a person.”
Contact Matt Sheehan at (810)-989-6267 or email@example.com.
Where: Canton, Ohio
2014 Undergrad Enrollment: 1,561
Colors: Red, white and blue
Football Conference: GLIAC (South Division)
2014 Record: 1-9