Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on October 16, 2018 at 11:22 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] Johnny Davidson, a junior at Washington University in St. Louis, can often be found at John’s Donuts in Saint Louis, Missouri. Jake Coon, Davidson’s teammate and longtime friend, said it’s pretty well-known on campus that Davidson goes there. But he’s known for more than his love of donuts: Davidson is one of the top punters in Division III football, earning third-team All-America honors last season after ranking fourth in average punting yards.And he’s WashU’s starting quarterback.The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Davidson has more than 3,600 passing yards to his name in under two seasons of play as a starter. He’s led WashU to a 5-1 start this season and is coming off an upset of No. 12 Wheaton. Recruited as a QB, Davidson said he never really thought about punting collegiately, though he had experience at the position in high school. But during training freshman year, it became apparent he wouldn’t be taking the starting QB job from the upperclassmen.“He wanted to find a way to get on the field,” head coach Larry Kindbom said. “So he says, ‘You know I punt, too’ … We let him punt, and one thing led to another, and all of the sudden, opening game we put him in there and the rest for him is history. He just had a tremendous season for us.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLaura Angle | Digital Design EditorIn Davidson’s sophomore year, after a competition for the starting job, he began the season third on the depth chart. Two and half weeks later, Kindbom said, Davidson earned the starting job, citing his leadership, athleticism and high football IQ.Once Davidson established himself as the starter, the coaches had meetings about whether Davidson should continue to punt or focus on quarterbacking. Kindbom believed it was important for Davidson to compartmentalize and switch focus from a failure on offense as the quarterback to executing a punt immediately after.Kindbom knew Davidson could do that. He also believed that Davidson, as a competitor, wouldn’t want to come off the field.“Our philosophy here in our program is the best people play,” Kindbom said. “So if he’s our best punter, he’s gonna play punter. If he’s our best quarterback, he’ll play quarterback.”But sometimes, how Davidson plays quarterback affects how he plays punter and vice versa. For example, if he doesn’t have a great offensive possession, he’s even more motivated to boom the punt as far as possible to make up for it.Davidson said his dad likes to joke that if he has a great day punting, he almost certainly had a pretty bad day at quarterback.“I kind of tell people when I’m just the punter. It’s a little stressful because I know if I make a bad punt there’s no real way to make up for it,” Davidson said. “Now you know, if I don’t have the best punt I can make up a little bit for it with my quarterback play.”Courtesy of WashU AthleticsPlaying quarterback has also helped him with punting, especially as a vocal leader. Davidson said that’s an important part of punting, because he has to make his teammates aware of where the ball is when they’re running down the field.And while opposing teams didn’t rush him as a punter at first, opponents now know he has the ability to throw the ball. He said he doesn’t get intimidated when a defender suddenly comes at him to block his punt, because he’s used to being rushed as a quarterback.Opposing defenses have to be on their toes, because it’s not uncommon for WashU to run fake punt plays, sometimes not involving Davidson passing.“We actually turn Johnny loose a little bit and if he has something as a punter we let him take it,” Kindbom said. “He’s taken advantage of that a couple different times … I guess it’s kind of nice we have that in our back pocket.”The way Davidson brings competitiveness out of his teammates and connects with them is “perfect from a coach’s standpoint,” Kindbom said.Kindbom recalls one play Davidson’s sophomore year when he took off on a scramble, something not uncommon for him, as he played running back until seventh grade. WashU’s quarterback ran over a defender, amping up the sideline. Kindbom said he tries not to pay attention to the chatter, but he couldn’t help but smile at one remark in particular.“That’s our punter!” one of Davidson’s teammates had yelled.
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