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Saugus' Austin Davenport plays with an edge

Posted: August 25, 2013 10:10 p.m.
Updated: August 25, 2013 10:10 p.m.
Saugus senior linebacker Austin Davenport verbally committed to New Mexico State in July. Saugus senior linebacker Austin Davenport verbally committed to New Mexico State in July.
Saugus senior linebacker Austin Davenport verbally committed to New Mexico State in July.

Somewhere beneath the surface, this flannel wearing, truck-driving, fun-loving kid has an edge.

Football was a means for Saugus senior Austin Davenport to stick up for himself.

And later it developed into a lot more than that.

But he never stopped playing with that chip on his shoulder that started when he first strapped on the pads in fifth grade.

“When I was little, I used to get picked on,” Davenport says. “So once I started football, I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to let anyone punk me anymore.’”

Back then he says he was “a little chubby kid” playing on the offensive line. He decided early that he was going to play mean and make sure no one was going to push him around.

Now at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, the third-year varsity starting middle linebacker still holds onto a little bit of his fierce fifth-grade self.

“Off the field, probably one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet,” says junior teammate Chris Hamilton. “On the field, he’ll still be nice, but the second you get on his bad side, that anger is always there.”

For the most part, Davenport doesn’t do a lot to indicate he’s a vicious football player.

One teammate called him a goof and others teased him for his hillbilly style.

Davenport likes dirt biking and camping and he takes fishing trips on with his dad on the weekends.

When he steps onto the field though, the nice,
outdoorsy kid goes away.

“He definitely has that crazy side, you just have to unleash it,” Hamilton says.

In July, Davenport verbally committed to New Mexico State, an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision team that recruited him as an outside linebacker.

He earned the scholarship offer partly because of his size and his rugged, no-nonsense approach to the game. But his positive attributes even go beyond that.

“He’s a student of the game,” says Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. “He really understands both offense and defense and he’s taken command of what we do and he’s very knowledgeable. He knows what everyone else is doing on the defensive side of the ball.”

Davenport is one of two of Saugus’ returning All-Foothill League first-team defenders on a team packed with experience. Bornn and teammates refer to the middle linebacker as a quarterback figure on defense.

He can also play quarterback on offense, among other things.

Davenport is the team’s No. 2 quarterback behind Hamilton. When Hamilton is in the game, Davenport occasionally plays tight end, which provides a big, sure-handed target in the passing game or an extra blocker to help out on the run.

It’s an exciting prospect for the senior who has just two catches through the first two years of his varsity career.

“It’s kind of fun actually because I really enjoy tight end because I like blocking, I like catching the ball,” Davenport says. “Out in the open field with those little (defensive backs), it’s pretty fun running them over.”

And on special teams, Davenport is quite the long snapper. That’s another positions New Mexico State is considering for him.

“He’s a big, athletic kid and he knows the game,” says Saugus senior safety Dakota Taylor. “He’s dedicated and he learns all his plays really quick and he knows where he has to be on the field and he just knows the game.”

And although his versatility is valued on the team, Davenport knows the linebacker positions best of all.

Last year, he finished the season with 53 tackles, two sacks, seven pass breakups and an interception.

He continuously studies film and learns every wrinkle of Saugus’ defensive scheme. When players have questions about where to be or what to do on a given play, they go to Davenport.

All that and he still plays with that attitude that he’s always carried with him in football.

“Surprisingly, no one started picking on me once I played football,” Davenport says.

If anything, Davenport is the one pushing people around now.


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