Zach Davidson declares for NFL Draft

COVID-19 cost tight end Zach Davidson his senior football season at Central Missouri this fall.

And there are no promises that the Mules will be back on the field next spring or next fall.

With that reality, Davidson has decided to opt out of his final college season and enter the 2021 National Football League Draft.

"I felt I had ample time to think about it and decided it was the best option for me and my family," Davidson said in a telephone conversation Wednesday afternoon.

Davidson, a 2016 graduate of Webb City High School and a former all-stater for the Cardinals, had been thinking about entering the draft for a long time.

"It started in the spring," he said. "I started receiving messages from agents, just wanting to represent me because they had been hearing a lot of good things from a handful of different teams' scouts. I took it into my own hands in interviewing a lot of agents on possible representation. I was planning on leaving after the fall because it would have been my last season, but in the summer we were informed that our season would be canceled.

"So with that being (the case), we were going to plan to play a couple of non-regular season games since the MIAA canceled our season. I was planning to make my decision after that to go play. And then after we didn't have those games, it was really do I come back and play another year or do I take my chances after hearing a lot of good things that I'd already heard. It really came down to trusting everything I've heard from agents and other scouts to making the decision."

Early indications have Davidson being selected in the middle to late rounds.

"My National Bledsoe Scouting Grade put me at anywhere from the fifth to seventh rounds," he said. "But with the tight end class being as large as it is this upcoming (draft) and the use of the tight end in the NFL, it's very likely I could go anywhere from the fourth round on. I'm just looking for an opportunity. I don't really have a spot I could see myself going in. I could see myself going late, but I'm really looking for an opportunity to get with an organization because I know what I can do."

Davidson is looking to play tight end in the NFL, "but I don't want to lose sight of punting," he said. "I definitely want to use it as my special teams key position. If I can fill two roster spots at any point, I feel like I could utilize that and be beneficial to some teams."

It was just the opposite for Davidson going into college when he was recruited primarily as a punter but also with a shot of playing tight end. After a redshirt season when he added about 20 pounds, he stepped right in as the Mules' punter and averaged 44.3 yards in 2017, 42.8 in 2018 and 40.3 in 2019.

Davidson saw action at tight end his sophomore year before blossoming into one of the best at the position in NCAA Division II, evident by his five first team All-America awards. He caught 40 passes for 894 yards and set Mules records for tight ends in touchdown receptions (15) and yards per reception (22.35). He tied a school record with four touchdown receptions at Missouri Southern on Oct. 5, 2019.

"It was really trust and dedication by the coaching staff and fellow teammates," Davidson said. "Coach (Jim) Svoboda put a lot of trust in me and verbally let me know that I had everything to make a really good tight end in the MIAA and in Division II. He and offensive coordinator John McMenamin put trust in me in the game plan and got me involved my junior year.

"It has led to me being very successful. I know my ceiling is high, and I have all the trust in myself that I'm going to do the best I can every day."

Davidson plans to be home for Christmas next week before going to Florida in January to train until the NFL Combine in February.

"There is also a College Gridiron Showcase, an all-star event set up like OTAs (organized team activities)," he said. "You do a bunch of individual/team drills, game-situation drills in front of NFL teams, all nine CFL teams and several other teams from around the world."

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