A look back at the countdown so far:
Determining a wrestler’s ceiling can be a difficult proposition, especially when you consider that Nebraska’s wrestlers are at different points in their careers. So different criteria will be used based on what each wrestler has accomplished as well as potential and time left in the program.
For instance, a senior-to-be who’s already secured All-American honors has hit a certain level and maybe has shown more definitively what his ceiling is. On the other hand, an incoming freshman hasn’t accomplished anything at the collegiate level, but their experience and accolades in high school and on the junior circuit can generally give a good indication of how good they can be in college.
Continuing our Top 10 Huskers with the highest ceilings, we move on to redshirt freshman Kevon Davenport.
No. 7 Kevon Davenport
This past season, senior Collin Purinton manned the 149-pound weight class for Nebraska. He did a respectable job, finishing with a record of 18-9. He was coming on late with a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships before he was denied a chance at All-American honors at the NCAA Championships that were cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The senior was seeded No. 9 going into the big dance.
This season, Nebraska will be breaking in a new starter at 149. All signs point to redshirt freshman Kevon Davenport taking over. After going 18-4 during his redshirt year, Davenport has some considerable hype around him, made evident by his preseason No. 18 ranking nationally at 149 pounds. He’ll have his hands full in the Big Ten right away, as there are nine Big Ten wrestlers ranked above him going into the season.
In high school, Davenport was Detroit Catholic Central High School’s first four-time state champion. Davenport won titles at 119 pounds as a freshman, 130 as a sophomore, then back-to-back titles at 145 to close out his high school career. He also became Michigan’s first African American four-time state champion, as he compiled a 172-10 career record.
The No. 22 overall prospect in the class of 2019 by FloWrestling, Davenport was also named the Detroit Free-Press Athlete of the Year. In 2017, Davenport won the Cadet Fargo National Championships title in Greco-Roman and finished runner-up in freestyle. He then finished third at the 2018 UWW Cadet World Team Trials.
After enrolling at Nebraska, Davenport redshirted this past season with an 18-4 record in open tournaments. With two wins and two losses coming by way of forfeit, his record in actual matches would have been 16-2. Against mostly inferior competition, Davenport did what he was supposed to do: Win and win big. Fourteen of his 16 wins came with bonus points as he racked up eight pins, three tech falls and three major decisions.
Off the mat, Davenport is considered Nebraska’s hype man. He’s routinely seen pumping up teammates and cheering them on from the edge of the mat. That’s not typical for a freshman, but it doesn’t seem that Davenport is your typical freshman. Here you can see him getting heavyweight Christian Lance pumped up before a match if you go to the 1:19:50 mark.
In his first match for Nebraska at the Cyclone Open, Davenport lost a 15-6 major decision to Iowa State All-American Jarrett Degen. Davenport pinned his next two opponents on the way to a fourth-place finish.
Then at the Daktronics Open, Davenport cruised into the final where he faced three-time NCAA qualifier Henry Pohlmeyer of South Dakota State. Davenport pinned the senior in two minutes, 24 seconds.
Davenport went on to finish second at the UNK Younes Hospitality Open, falling in the final by pinfall to Dante Rodriguez, a former NCAA qualifier for Iowa State. Davenport won his final seven matches, capturing the Hasting College Open before finishing second at the Dave Edmonds Open. The runner-up finish is misleading, as Davenport “loss” in the final was a forfeit against teammate Caleb Licking.
Most recently, Davenport competed at the 2020 Senior National Championships in freestyle at 65 kg (143 lbs). In a stacked bracket, the unseeded Davenport went 3-2 at his first senior-level freestyle event. Davenport’s two losses came to top-seeded Joey McKenna (former 4-time All-American and national finalist for Ohio State) and to Iowa State’s Ian Parker, currently the 5th-ranked wrestler in the NCAA at 141 pounds.
After his opening-round loss to McKenna, Davenport won two matches by tech fall (His quick win over Joey Jones can be seen below) before downing former two-time NCAA Champion Dean Heil 9-1 (video also below), making a statement that he has the potential to beat the best.
It’s almost always tough sledding for a freshman to compete in the Big Ten, so I expect to see Davenport take his lumps. But he’s got serious potential and ability, so I definitely expect Davenport to eventually push for conference titles and one day possibly a national title. His goals are lofty, so it’ll be fun to watch him try to attain them these next four years.