New kids on the Duke football gridiron: Davis Koppenhaver


With every new season come new players. Most of the time, the new kids on the block are freshmen. For the 2014-2015 season, Duke signed a plethora of true freshmen.

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Here’s the lowdown on tight end Davis Koppenhaver.

Being ranked as the 37th best tight end in the country without technically playing as one speaks for itself. Koppenhaver comes from Newhall, Calif. out of William S. Hart High School. At Hart, they don’t utilize the tight end position, so Koppenhaver lined up for a slot receiver during his high school career.

He was recruited by teams from all over the country, from many different conferences. He had scholarship offers from Colgate, Duke, Iowa State, Nevada, New Mexico, New Mexico State, UNLV and Yale. Other schools that expressed interest were Delaware, Stanford, UCLA and Virginia. Koppenhaver announced his commitment via Twitter.

It’s projected that Koppenhaver could be getting a redshirt for the season, since Braxton Deaver will be returning for his senior season. David Reeves will also be coming back, as is Dan Beilinson. The Third Team All-California could be called upon if things get ugly, but I don’t expect that to happen.

He may not be taking any snaps his freshman season, but let’s get one thing straight. Koppenhaver is one mentally and physically strong teenage boy.

Back in 2006, his mother felt that something was off about her son.

“I just noticed that something wasn’t right,” Sharon Koppenhaver said. “He was gray in color and he is an extremely sweaty kid and there was no more sweat anymore. He wasn’t right. Breathing and snoring was really bad. It was just not Davis, so it took awhile because it’s very unusual. So it did take a little while to find out what was wrong.”

The diagnosis was that he had a cancerous tumor that was blocking about 90 percent of his airway. Doctors were shocked that he didn’t collapse during one of his many sporting events. In December of 2006, Koppenhaver went through surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery was successful and he has remained cancer free ever since.

“He doesn’t like making a big deal about it. He would rather nobody knew.”-Dave Koppenhaver

“He doesn’t like making a big deal about it,” said Davis’ father Dave. “He would rather nobody knew.But at the same time he understands that what he’s been through has really affected him and could be something that other people– especially kids– when they’re going through tough health issues, could see someone else has gone through that and they are doing fine.”

Koppenhaver has been a leader his whole life. That’s not about to change any time soon.

“I’m just so thankful,” he said. “Pretty much, i’ve done a complete 180 from having cancer to now colleges looking at me. It’s awesome. I try to remind myself that things could be a lot worse right now.”

Now he’s headed to college, a division one school at that. With that he’s already breaking down barriers.