Rohan Davey was out deep-sea fishing with his son Micah when he noticed something had changed with the young man.
Davey, the well-known former LSU star quarterback and NFL Draft pick, was having one of those parental moments that force a mother or a father to do a double-take.
Is this really our kid? Our baby?
Micah Davey was battling a 21-inch Snapper — a challenge for even the most seasoned angler. The problem for the tasty fish was that Micah was kicking its scales when it came to the fight. Rohan recounted in a recent talk with FanBuzz that Micah whipped off his shirt to get down to business, and Rohan realized his son had gotten pretty chiseled while preparing to play a major role in McNeese's defense. The Cowboys — a storied FCS program in Louisiana — have relied on the younger Davey all of 2023. The linebacker is currently No. 2 in the nation in the FCS (13.7 tackles per game) and he's only a sophomore. This weekend, he and his team travel to take on in-state rival Southeastern Louisiana — an emotional game that has been settled five straight years by five points or less, regardless of how strong either school is.
In that fishing moment, Rohan Davey noticed Micah and McNeese had taken all of his baby fat off, and he complimented his boy for his hard work and dedication to get better — in more facets of life than just those affiliated with the gridiron.
"To be honest, I still remember when the light bulb went off for Micah," Rohan Davey told FanBuzz. "It was his junior year of high school and up until then, he was a meat and potatoes guy only. But then he began eating better and got serious about his nutrition and his weight. I told him that any time you can play lighter and faster, you're more like a DB (defensive back), but at the same time, you can also cover a tight end or a running back and be on the field all four downs for your team. He started asking more questions and noticed things more.
"He was growing up."
The interaction between the father-son duo is actually quite comical. Micah swears his father could have been a comedian if he'd chosen to toss jokes around instead of a pigskin. Rohan said that's all done to make sure nobody takes life so seriously that they don't enjoy it — but he confesses to a father-son share of "inside jokes" nobody else would get.
"When you get into a deep-dive on Rohan Davey, outside the intensity of sports — he's really a very funny person," Micah told FanBuzz. "People can't stop laughing around him. With my Dad and my sisters (Rhaia and Jasmine), there's an unspoken chemistry. We're always joking, but he always makes sure we're taken care of, too. He's a family man, that's how I describe him. He puts others before himself and makes sure we have what we need."
Rohan said he never pushed Micah to play football, a point his son backs up. While Rohan led the LSU Tigers to the 2001 SEC title and still holds the school's single-game record for passing yardage with 528 during a memorable 2001 win over Alabama — who happens to be LSU's opponent this week — he never put pressure on his son to be just like him. Micah is making his mark in a different way on a different side of the line of scrimmage.
You know, the side that usually loathes signal-callers.
As Micah recalls, the idea that his dad starred at the quarterback position intrigued him — until his first powerful memory of watching his dad play Arena League football. Rohan was drafted in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft, and the Miami native picked up two Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots as a backup to — you guessed it — Tom Brady. By 2006 he was tearing things up in the Arena League, throwing for 91 touchdowns in his career there. Micah has no memory of the Super Bowl years, but he remembers the moment that taught him he didn't want to be exactly like Dad, as he tells it.
"It wasn't like I had a long discussion about (offense vs. defense) or anything like that," Micah told FanBuzz.com. "I was really young and don't remember when he was playing in the NFL, but when he played Arena League with the San Antonio Talons (in 2013), some like 6-foot-5, 400-pound dude hit him and cracked a few of his ribs ... I decided I liked hitting people, not getting hit."
The younger Davey is blazing his own trail. His McNeese team (1-8) is rebuilding but showed glimpses of what might be coming down the line when it was up 24-7 late in the third quarter against Top-10 FCS-ranked Incarnate Word two weeks ago (before the Cardinals rallied to win). Younger players like Micah are what excite second-year McNeese head coach Gary Goff.
"He is a great kid," Goff told FanBuzz.com. "He was a walk-on when he got here, and he did a great job for us a year ago and played a lot more at the end of the season. He earned that scholarship, and he's a very positive kid with a great attitude. Our team is definitely going through some challenging times, but he's helping them stay together and come back the next day.
"His Dad had a great career and I think anyone who is a college football fan knows who his father is. His Dad lets him handle his own business and he does it in a good way. Micah has two parents (Rohan and his mother Aisha) who are a big part of his life, they're both great parents ... and a lot of young men don't have that. He has a chance to be the all-time leading tackler at McNeese."
McNeese has been known in the past for its traditional toughness on defense at the FCS/I-AA level, Goff pointed out. The younger Davey fits that mold. He had 14 stops in the aforementioned game against ranked UIW, and earlier this season he had 13 tackles when McNeese traveled to play the SEC's Florida Gators in Gainesville, Fla. In his career, he has 164 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss. The school record is an astounding 486 tackles by Charles Ayro (1995-98), but Micah has three games left this season, and two more seasons to go. If you take his average so far in his career and multiply it over the guaranteed games left in college, he would break Ayro's record with 524 career tackles.
Hey, if he posted 13 tackles against an SEC team like Florida, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound linebacker must be pretty good, eh? In fact, when he played in The Swamp in Gainesville, he felt like in an eery way, there was a connection. His father also played on this field, getting the start there 23 years earlier in 2000. While FCS programs usually succumb to Power Five programs like Florida due to having nearly 25 fewer scholarship players, etc., Micah did see positives.
"Stepping into that stadium and seeing that crowd and everything, it was amazing and one of the best highlights of my life," Micah said. "But it wasn't a vacation or a sightseeing trip. We soaked in the moment for a second but then we had to go to work. My job was to stay locked in and give them a good hard fight. They didn't have all the explosive plays they wanted and when they did score, we forced them to go 10, 11, 12 plays on most of those drives."
For now, the goals are clear for Micah and his Dad. Micah would love to see his team wrap 2023 on a three-game winning streak like it finished with last year — and two of the opponents are the same (Houston Christian and Lamar). His Dad would like to win a couple more too, as a first-year high school head coach at Ascension Christian in Louisiana. Both programs have taken their lumps this year, but both have winners at the forefront who believe in building from the ground up, one leafy vegetable bite and one Snapper fight at a time.
"There's no time for babysitting and we just have to get our minds right," Micah said. "We just have to pull our pants up and get out of this slump."
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