By the Internet travel site MapQuest, it’s around 900 miles from Washington to Orlando, Florida. But the path Kelly Davison took from Washington to the world of big time college football travelled a much longer route.
When the University of Central Florida Knights square off against Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, Davison will be right there, wearing No. 77 and taking the field as an offensive lineman whenever the Knights attempt an extra point or field goal. But the black and gold UCF uniform isn’t the most important one Davison has worn since he graduated from Washington High School in 2004.
Before landing at UCF, Davison spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a military policeman, including two tours of duty in Iraq providing security for convoys and a tour serving in Japan. Davison, a three-sport standout in football, wrestling, and track and field for the Hatchets, explained his decision to enter the Marine Corps.
“It’s just kind of one of those things that hit me, I wanted to do something for my country. I signed up,” Davison said on a recent holiday visit to Washington.
After serving his country, Davison returned to Indiana and started college, spending a year at Vincennes University, where he made the track team. That was followed by a year at Valencia Community College in Orlando, where Davison lived with some friends from his Marine Corps days and earned an associate’s degree. He remained in Orlando and transferred to UCF, but taking classes toward a degree wasn’t the only thing on Davison’s mind. Though he was by this time in 2012 eight years removed from playing football, Davison wanted to play college football. And a chance encounter with Knights head coach George O’Leary helped get him started.