Monday, April 27, 2020

The NFL Guy

Caraun Reid seems to be about the gentlest football player you'll ever meet in your life.

At least off the field, that is.

When TigerBlog first met him nearly 10 years ago, he couldn't believe it was the same guy he watched play defensive line for Princeton. With that soft voice? With those glasses?

Of course, he certainly did look the part, checking in at 6-2 and nearly 300 pounds with no obvious fat anywhere. Yes, he certainly looked like a football player, even if he didn't seem like a football player.

Reid went from Princeton to a long career in the NFL, where he's scored a pair of regular-season touchdowns, one with the Detroit Lions and one for the San Diego Chargers.

Still, anytime TB saw in person or in a game, he kept going back to when he first met him.

He did that yesterday too, when he saw the video that Reid made for Kevin Davidson after Davidson signed his free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns.

First, you can see how soft his voice is. Second, as he says at the end, yes, he can in fact show him how a hit feels.

This was a big weekend for Kevin Davidson. The 6-4, 225-pound senior quarterback at Princeton figured to either be a late-round NFL draft choice or, in lieu of that, an undrafted free agent. The latter route has been a pretty good one the last few years for the Tigers and their alums.

Did any of this seem possible a year ago?

Davidson's story is one of loyalty and perseverance. His path at Princeton seemed at first to include sitting behind Chad Kanoff and John Lovett for two years and then being the favorite to start for two more.

Then Lovett got hurt and missed all of 2017, which brought him back in 2018 as the starter in Davidson's junior year. Princeton went 10-0 that season, and Davidson did get to start one game, throwing for 299 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-10 win over Brown when Lovett was out.

For the most part, though, he spent his first three years as a backup. Heading into the 2019 season, the biggest question was who was going to be win the starting quarterback job.

He went from there to being an NFL guy. That's not a bad jump in a short time.

Davidson started all 10 games last fall, leading the Tigers to an 8-2 record. He was a team leader from Day 1, and his allegiance to the program paid off for both the player and the team.

He showed early on that he had a big-league arm, and NFL scouts were regular attendees at Princeton games.

Davidson completed 209 of 313 passes for 2,569 yards and 20 touchdowns this past season. He set the Ivy League record with seven touchdown passes against Bucknell, and he is the only Princeton quarterback ever with two games of at least five TD passes. He also had the fourth-highest number of touchdown passes and fifth-highest total of passing yards in a season at Princeton.

He ranks second all-time at Princeton in lowest career interception percentage (trailing only Lovett) and yards per attempt (trailing only Dick Kazmaier), and he is third all-time in career completion percentage (behind Jason Garrett and Lovett). His 25 career touchdown passes rank seventh in program history.

Following the season he competed at the East-West Shrine Bowl participant. Then he attended the NFL combine.

His name didn't get called during the seven rounds of the draft, but it wasn't 30 minutes later that he was on his way to the Browns, a team that lists three quarterbacks - including incumbent Baker Mayfield - on its roster.

Davidson has taken the first step towards what so many other recent Princeton football players have done. Both Kanoff and Lovett made the jump, and Lovett has himself a Super Bowl ring with Kansas City.

Like the two quarterbacks, receivers Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson also went the undrafted free agent route last year and made immediate impacts, each with a touchdown reception as a rookie.

And now Davidson is looking to join them, in Carlson's case, literally, since Carlson is with the Browns as well.

It's another Princeton football player on the next level. It's always exciting, and in this case even more so, given the path Davidson took to get to this point. 

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