Mike Stevens says his heart has always been on the defensive side of the football.The 6-foot, 182-pound Davidson Day senior has spent the bulk of his time at cornerback for the two-time, defending state champion Patriots in the school’s two varsity seasons, as his team has gone 22-3 in that span.But with three of last year’s top receivers – Evan Gates (now at Jirah Prep), Aaron Seward (Carson-Newman) and Jordan Young (Cornell) – lost to graduation, head coach Chad Grier knew he would have to call on Stevens to play a bigger role on Patriots’ offense.“Mike has always been a defensive guy, first and foremost,” Grier said. “But he has all the skills to play offense. The only thing holding back Mike, was Mike. We’ve always known he had the talent to do both (offense/defense) well, but he never really embraced it (offense).”Ironically, Stevens had his breakout game on offense last season, when Gates went down with an injury, grabbing 10 balls for 169 yards and three touchdowns in a 46-0 first-round playoff win over First Assembly.After strong summer, where he attended camps at Kansas State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest, among others, Stevens didn’t miss a beat in the season, opening with a 61-6 win over Albermarle, catching five passes for 109 yards and three touchdowns.In that game, Stevens set the tone for the offense, scoring the first Patriot touchdowns on passes of 28 and 20 yards from all-state quarterback Will Grier, while also catching a third score on a key fourth-and-10 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.“Mike really showed a lot of maturity on that play, because he walked up to me and told me ‘I want the ball and I know what play will work,’ Chad Grier said.“I knew it was big play, and I knew I could get open,” Stevens said. “I told my coach that a corner route that we call, “Nashville,” would work, and it did. I’m happy to make plays for my team, and I wanted to come out and help us make a statement.”Stevens will join a talented offense that also includes running back/wideout Jordan Brown, Glenn Coates, Khalil Moore (out with hip injury for now) and Jacob Robinson, and tight ends Lamar Briggs and Tyler Stevens.With University of Florida-bound Will Grier (5,785 yards, 69 touchdown passes last year) throwing the ball, that group is sure to put up big numbers again.While Stevens had a breakout offensive game against Albermarle, Coach Grier says he also helped set the defense, locking down preseason all-state wide receiver Timmie White for most of the game.Stevens said that he likes everything about defense from the jam at the line, to coming up and making hits to making plays on the ball – but there’s nothing like taking a receiver out of his game.“I love shutting down an opposing wide receiver more than anything in football,” Stevens said. “To take a guy out of the game, get in his head and see his frustration is something I look forward to.”Stevens’ early season success just adds to a great summer, where the Davidson Day senior recently committed to play for Kansas State on July 27. His commitment to the Wildcats happened by chance, when Kansas State assistant and wide receivers’ coach Andre Coleman was watching other Davidson Day players but fell in love with Stevens’ play.Stevens ultimately chose the Wildcats over UNC Charlotte, East Carolina and Kentucky, while also having major interest from North Carolina and N.C. State. With his commitment, Stevens also joins his friend, Hopewell senior wideout Dominique Heath, who also committed to the Wildcats.While Coleman likes Stevens’ receiving talents, as of now, Bill Snyder and the Kansas staff have projected him as a cornerback.But no matter what positions Stevens end up at, he has the size and speed to make an impact in any phase of the game.Stevens not only bench presses 280 pounds but has run a recent 4.48, 40-yard dash and a sub-3.9-second pro agility shuttle (also called the 5-10-5).“Mike (Stevens) is an incredibly gifted athlete who is just starting to realize his potential,” Chad Grier said.While Stevens’ future is as bright as ever, he says for now he is totally focused on the task at hand, where he says the Patriots have a week-by-week agenda with the final goal being their third straight NCISAA state championship.“We have a lot of teams on our schedule that we are targeting and gunning for,” said Stevens, who has been with the team since its inception as a junior varsity squad in 2010. “But overall, our focus is definitely to get that third ring. We are dialed in, and I think we can do it again.”
Monday, Sep. 02, 2013
Senior catching on to a new role for Patriots
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer for the Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.
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