The clock is ticking down. Sweat is pouring from his head. Kevon Davenport knows it is his time to shine. “In 5… 4… 3… 2… You’re live!”
Growing up in Detroit, Davenport found a passion for wrestling.
“I went to my very first practice and busted up this kid’s nose. My shirt was just covered in blood. I came back home and my mom was like, ‘Woah you’re not going back!’ and I told her, ‘Nah, sign me up for tomorrow!’ I went back there. I got to beat a kid up and I didn’t get in trouble so I was like, ‘Sign me up for more of that!'”
Now, a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he wrestles for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 149lb weight class. He has a career record of 18-4 with eight pins, three technical falls and three major decisions.
But more recently, Davenport has discovered another passion for sports broadcasting.
“When I was growing up, I would watch a lot of wrestling on the Big Ten Network. You could tell that a lot of the guys that were commentating have never wrestled,” Davenport said. “They would use the wrong terminology and it showed there wasn’t a high level of knowledge to do the job. I feel like that inspired me because I know a lot more than these guys. If you have knowledge as a commentator, that’s what makes you the best of the best.”
Davenport recently made his broadcasting debut for 90.3 KRNU, UNL’s student radio station. According to his broadcasting peers, his electric persona brought the broadcast to life.
“The experience was very unexpected because of how much control and freedom I had. I really enjoyed it, for sure,” Davenport said. “I wasn’t expecting to have that much freedom over what was being talked about and what was being emphasized. It was really cool to know that I was the one dictating the tempo of the broadcast.”
Being a Division I student-athlete, Davenport brings the same energy and tempo into the broadcasting booth as he does the wrestling mat.
“The really neat thing about wrestling is that you get out of it exactly what you put into it, and I think that same philosophy runs very similarly with life,” Davenport said. “You get out of life what you put into it. The more you work every day consistently, the better you’ll be as a wrestler or someone excelling through life. It’s the same mindset you have to apply in life. You have to try to excel every day and that is what wrestling taught me in life.”
Nebraska wrestler Ridge Lovett said he admires Davenport’s passion and knows he has the factors to make him successful.
“Whatever he wants to do he can do it, ” Lovett said. “We will wrestle live and try to beat each other and try new things and give each other tips and things like that to make each other better. I think he applies these skills to everyday life.”
Davenport, a four-time state wrestling champion, recently made his debut commentating on high school football with UNLimited Sports staff writer, Daniel Magnuson. Magnuson said he loved spending time in the booth with Davenport and commented on his progress just as a beginner.
“It’s cool that he is an athlete who is passionate about sports broadcasting,” Magnuson said. “Most athletes don’t get into broadcasting until after their careers in athletics. It’s cool that Kevon is getting started in college.”
Typically, broadcasts feature seasoned veterans fresh out of retirement, but not Davenport. He’s getting a head start.
“You don’t have to shut up,” Davenport said. “You can always talk about what you see and what is going on. Obviously, you have to make time for your color analyst. It is like main-character-type energy because you are just constantly talking. You are the voice of what everyone hears. It is super cool.”
Magnuson follows: “Kevon, if you want to be a broadcaster, you have the ability to do it.”
Davenport found his calling in the booth and his goals are beginning to take flight. Shooting for the professional level, Davenport is hoping to use athletics to help migrate over into his career as a broadcaster.
John Shrader, a UNL sports media professor, gave Davenport his first opportunity as a broadcaster and praised him for his passion and knowledge of the sport.
“Kevon’s knowledge of wrestling will help him immensely,” Shrader said. “I think his passion for the game will help him immensely and the audience picks up on that. He has a lot of energy and when he packages that energy in the right places then it works.”
Shrader, who is a distinguished sports broadcaster himself — spending over 40 years calling California professional sports — said Davenport has a lot of potential in life wherever he decides to go.
“Take that sports and athletic training and focus it into broadcasting: the details, the preparation, the passion for the sport,” Shrader said. “Take all of those things and package them into a broadcast presentation and just keep working really hard at it. Take advantage of every opportunity you can to broadcast.”
As Davenport enters wrestling season, his time becomes more constricted, but there are ways he can improve on himself as an athlete and a broadcaster, just from his energy.
“Kevon brings a whole lot of energy to the broadcast,” Magnuson said. “Kevon definitely has a passion for wrestling as he is one of the top wrestlers at UNL. This, combined with his broadcast potential and knowledge of the sport, will give him a lot of opportunity to be a broadcaster in wrestling if he chooses to go that route.”
In a perfect world, Davenport hopes to achieve accolades of a national champion in his respective sport, compete on the world stage and finally land into the broadcasting booth.
“It would be so cool if I could win some national titles in college and go on to the world stage and win some world titles and transition over to broadcasting,” Davenport said. “I hope wrestling continues to grow forward at this progression to the level like now, where wrestling is being covered now and I can be like Steven A. Smith of wrestling. Being able to achieve those accolades and being able to transition into a wider stage into the broadcasting booth.”