Q & A With Najeh Davenport

Senior fullback Najeh Davenport discusses his career at UM, including his goals for this year. He also speaks about head coach Larry Coker as well as running back's coach Don Soldinger. In addition he has some interesting takes on some of our younger players.

BK: How is your knee compared to before your injury in '99?
ND: I have no problems, it is 100%. It actually feels better than ever.

BK: What is your reaction to the move to fullback and having less touches albeit only two games into the season?
ND: I have a problem with it sure (laughing). I just go out there and do what I'm told and my job is to help us win. I'm not really a goal oriented person. Those went out the window after the first two games (laughing). Your guess is as good as mine as far as how many touches I'll be getting in the future.

BK: Talk about the difference between Butch Davis and Larry Coker.
ND: This being coach Coker's first head coaching job, he is in a "feel you out" stage. Right now we have a player council made up of myself, Joaquin Gonzalez, Ed Reed, Bryant McKinnie, Matt Walters and Ken Dorsey. Coach Coker gives us a lot of responsibility where Butch really didn't as much and it is great now because we are winning. If we started to lose I'm sure he would step in and put his hand down though.

BK: What about coach Soldinger?
ND: Coach Soldinger is real cool. He will always tell you what is on his mind. Brutal honesty is what I love about him, you always know where you stand with him. He'll speak his mind to anyone out there, players or coaches.

BK: What is your take on the younger running backs we have on the team?
ND: I think the media makes more of it than the players do. These young guys just want to play. In the game we don't think of ourselves as freshmen or seniors but as players. I think you see a lot of things being said about Willis [McGahee] and Frank [Gore] but they don't make it into a big deal like the media does. When I came here as a freshman everyone kept telling me I was going to be the best running back ever at Miami, but I just went out there and played and didn't pay a lot of attention to it. I think these young guys will do the same.

BK: What has been your highlight thus far at UM?
ND: It is definitely my first carry in '98. Edgerrin [James] called for a break and they sent me in against East Tennessee State Uviversity and I ran for like 12 or 15 yards and just stayed in the rest of the fourth quarter and ended up with 78 yards or so and two touchdowns. It was definitely the highlight of my time here just getting that first carry.

BK: You have already graduated (Theater) and are taking prep courses for graduate school. If the NFL doesn't work out what are your plans?
ND: I want to teach drama at the secondary level, that being middle or high school.

BK: From a defensive perspective, who has stuck out on the scout team you go against?
ND: Leon Williams and Orien Harris. I'm not into labeling people so I'll just say they have a chance to be very good if they work hard.

BK: What does Najeh Davenport do in his free time?
ND: What free time (laughing)? In this 19 day break we have we have had one day off and on that day we had to come in for two hours. Outside of the season I would sell some kitchen utensils, cutlery and stuff. I don't do it during the season as it interferes with my scholarship.

BK: Have you thought about how this change in the schedule (Washington moved to November 24th) might effect the team?
ND: I haven't thought about it at all. I'm looking at the schedule now and I didn't even know we had Troy State coming up. The only thing I'm thinking about is Pittsburgh. Coach is doing a good job keeping us focused. We have been running a lot. I mean this is "miss a practice" running. The other day I was asking myself "what did we do to him?" (laughing)

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