Maple Grove QB Brad Davison is the 2016 All-Metro Player of the Year. Davison is a two-sport athlete and has committed to playing collegiate basketball for Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune
Raised in a basketball family, Brad Davison yearned to reach the collegiate level like older sisters Stephanie and Angie. Some coaches felt getting there, however, meant he must give up football.
It’s a big risk, they cautioned. It’s a lot of sacrifice and a lot of time.
On the latter point, those coaches were correct. Davison worked hard and became not just a great athlete playing quarterback at Maple Grove, but a great quarterback. As far as risk, Davison considered real pain the sort that comes from letting teammates down. So he twice ignored pressure to focus on basketball, first as a promising sophomore and again as senior just weeks after fulfilling his hoop dreams with a verbal commitment to Wisconsin.
“A lot of people tell you what they think you should do,” Davison said. “But when it came down to it, I just enjoyed playing football and being with my teammates so much that I had to do it.”
He carried the Crimson (8-3) this fall, throwing for 2,418 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushing for 891 yards and 15 scores. He got extra reps with receivers after practice three days per week. And he handled growing media attention well, using “sir” or “ma’am” whenever possible.
Davison earned Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year honors as a quarterback opposing coaches struggled to stop and found impossible to dislike.
Eden Prairie football coach Mike Grant spoke to Davison after the Class 6A state tournament quarterfinals and flipped the anti-football script offered by basketball coaches.
“What I told him, I said I think the Gophers should have offered him,” Grant said. “I said I think he’d be one of the great quarterbacks at Minnesota. Seriously.”
Davison, a junior guard on the Star Tribune All-Metro first team, never considered leaving basketball. He made playing quarterback a point of pride.
“When I was a sophomore and junior, when you thought of Maple Grove you thought, ‘Make ‘em pass,’ ” Davison said. “I kind of had a chip on my shoulder because of that.”
A strong Crimson running game meant Davison primarily threw the ball on play-action for two seasons. The playbook expanded this fall. Davison completed more passes (166) than he previously attempted yet finished with a higher completion rate (62.9 percent). He threw more touchdown passes (23) than the previous two seasons combined.
Davison, 6-4, 200 pounds, led the tough West Metro South subdistrict in passing yards and ranked second in rushing.
Then there were the subtle ways Davison asserted control. Coach Matt Lombardi said he made Davison a “second coach” on the field, trusting him to count the number of defenders in the box and check out of plays as needed.
“I put so much more time into basketball at a younger age because I was brought up in a basketball family,” Davison said. “So it came more natural to me. I didn’t start taking football as seriously until sophomore year. It hit me that if I want my team to be successful, I’ve got to elevate my game.”
Davison started this fall with a comeback victory against rival Osseo. He overcame a dreadful start — two interceptions in the first 15 minutes — to account for 331 total yards and three touchdowns. After the game, he noticed a Crimson student-manager struggling to get the first down markers off the field. So he picked them up.
“My dad saw that and he said to me, ‘He’s a good kid,’ ” Lombardi said. “He’s made a huge impact on this school and he’s done it with humility and grace. Because of that, our kids responded.’’
David La Vaque • 612-673-7574
History maker: Of the 33 annual selections for football Metro Player of the Year, Maple Grove senior quarterback Brad Davison is the first to play his senior season with a verbal college commitment in another sport. He’s also the first one headed to college basketball (Wisconsin). “He was told, ‘You’re crazy for playing football,’ but he fought the specialization bug,” Maple Grove football coach Matt Lombardi said. “He took ownership of this team and led us farther than a lot of people thought we might go.”
Sing loud, sing proud: Davison is a three-year member of the choir. His baritone voice can be heard at concerts throughout the school year, though not as a soloist. “I stay away from that; I stay in the back,” said Davison, whose favorite song is the late Leonard Cohen’s ‘‘Hallelujah.’’
Good company: Lombardi, who served as Wayzata’s defensive coordinator for 11 seasons, said Davison “is James Laurinaitis 'to a tee.' ” Comparisons to the NFL linebacker start with the mind. “They both lived and died the cerebral part of football,” Lombardi said.
David La Vaque
|2015||JD Spielman||Eden Prairie||RB|
|2011||Trey Heid||Lakeville North||QB|
|2007||Michael Floyd||Cretin-Derham Hall||WR|
|2006||Blake Sorensen||Eden Prairie||LB/RB|
|2004||Walker Ashley||Eden Prairie||DL|
|2001||Kim Sarin||Cretin-Derham Hall||RB/KR|
|2000||Joe Mauer||Cretin-Derham Hall||QB|
|1998||Thomas Tapeh||St. Paul Johnson||RB|
|1994||LeRoy McFadden||Eden Prairie||RB|
|1993||Tommy Reynolds||St. Paul Johnson||RB|
|1992||Marcus Harris||Brooklyn Center||RB|
|1991||Carl McCullough||Cretin-Derham Hall||RB|
|1990||Bryce Darnell||Brooklyn Center||QB|
|1989||Joe Dziedzic||Minneapolis Edison||RB/LB|
|1988||Paul Meyer||Minneapolis Henry||RB/LB|
|1984||Steve Walsh||Cretin-Derham Hall||QB|
Tag(s): MSHSL Districts 9-Man North Blue Cook County Ely Mesabi Academy Mountain Iron-Buhl Silver Bay Gold Hill City/Northland Isle Nevis Ogilvie Onamia Red Bigfork North Central Lake of the Woods Littlefork-Big Falls Northeast Range North Woods White Carlton Cromwell-Wright Floodwood McGregor South Ridge Wrenshall South East Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons Grand Meadow Houston Lanesboro Lyle-Pacelli Mabel-Canton Randolph Spring Grove West Lutheran West Cleveland Edgerton Fulda GHEC/Truman Heron Lake-Okabena Hills-Beaver Creek Madelia Mountain Lake Area Nicollet Westbrook-Walnut Grove West North Clearbrook-Gonvick Goodridge-Grygla-Gatzke Kittson County Central Northern Freeze Stephen-Argyle Central Warren-Alvarado-Oslo North 2 Ada-Borup Cass Lake-Bena NCE/UH Norman County West Waubun Win-E-Mac South Bertha-Hewitt Hillcrest Lutheran Laporte Park Christian Rothsay Underwood Verndale South 2 Brandon-Evansville Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley Hancock MACCRAY Renville County West Wheaton-Herman-Norcross Big Southeast Blue Austin Faribault Mankato East Mankato West Red Wing Winona Red New Prague Northfield Owatonna Rochester Century Rochester John Marshall Rochester Mayo East Central North Albany Becker Foley Little Falls Milaca New London-Spicer St. Cloud Cathedral Zimmerman South Annandale Dassel-Cokato Delano Glencoe-Silver Lake Holy Family Hutchinson Litchfield Watertown-Mayer Metro East Cretin-Derham Hall East Ridge Forest Lake Mounds View Roseville Stillwater Woodbury White Bear Lake Maroon Hastings Two Rivers Hill-Murray Mahtomedi North St. Paul Park of Cottage Grove Simley South St. Paul St. Thomas Academy Tartan South Apple Valley Burnsville Eagan Eastview Farmington Lakeville North Lakeville South Rosemount Midwest Blue Frazee Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Osakis Otter Tail Central Staples-Motley Sebeka Wadena-Deer Creek Red Detroit Lakes East Grand Forks Fergus Falls Park Rapids Pequot Lakes Perham Roseau Thief River Falls White Barnesville Breckenridge Crookston Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Hawley Pelican Rapids Warroad Mid Southeast White Fillmore Central Goodhue Hayfield Kingsland Lewiston-Altura Rushford-Peterson Southland Wabasha-Kellogg Red Bethlehem Academy Blooming Prairie Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Kenyon-Wanamingo Mankato Loyola Medford St. Clair/Loyola United South Central Mid State Sub 1 Eden Valley-Watkins Holdingford Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Maple Lake Melrose Paynesville Pierz Rockford Sub 2 Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City Benson BOLD Minnewaska Montevideo Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta Sauk Centre Yellow Medicine East Sub 3 Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Browerville/Eagle Valley Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Kimball Area Parkers Prairie Royalton Upsala/Swanville West Central/Ashby Northeast Blue Aitkin Esko Crosby-Ironton Moose Lake-Willow River Mora Pine City Red Cloquet Duluth Denfeld Grand Rapids Hermantown Hibbing Proctor Silver Barnum Braham Chisholm Deer River East Central Hinckley-Finlayson Mesabi East Rush City White Eveleth-Gilbert Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin International Falls Two Harbors Virginia Northwest West Lake Park-Audubon Polk County West Badger-Greenbush-Middle River Fertile-Beltrami Fosston Mahnomen Red Lake County East Bagley Blackduck New York Mills Pillager Pine River-Backus Red Lake Walker-Hackensack-Akeley North Central Blue Buffalo Cambridge-Isanti Elk River Rogers St. Francis St. Michael-Albertville Red Alexandria Bemidji Brainerd Moorhead Rocori St. Cloud Apollo St. Cloud Tech Sartell-St. Stephen Sauk Rapids-Rice Willmar White Big Lake Chisago Lakes Duluth East Monticello North Branch Princeton Southeast Red Cannon Falls Byron Kasson-Mantorville Stewartville Plainview-Elgin-Millville La Crescent-Hokah Lake City Rochester Lourdes White Caledonia Chatfield Dover-Eyota Pine Island St. Charles Triton Winona Cotter Zumbrota-Mazeppa Southwest East Ortonville Lakeview Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Murray County Central Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Adrian Canby Dawson-Boyd Minneota Lac qui Parle Valley West Cedar Mountain-Comfrey Minnesota Valley Lutheran New Ulm Cathedral Red Rock Central Sleepy Eye Sleepy Eye St. Mary's Springfield Wabasso South Central Blue Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Lester Prairie LeSueur-Henderson Maple River Mayer Lutheran New Richland-H-E-G Norwood Young America Sibley East Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Red Albert Lea Belle Plaine Fairmont Jordan Marshall New Ulm St. Peter Tri-City United Waseca Worthington White Blue Earth Area Jackson County Central Luverne Martin County West Pipestone Area Redwood Valley St. James Windom Suburban Red Benilde-St. Margaret's DeLaSalle Irondale Park Center Robbinsdale Armstrong Robbinsdale Cooper St. Louis Park Spring Lake Park White Bloomington Jefferson Bloomington Kennedy Chanhassen Chaska Academy of Holy Angels Orono Richfield Waconia Twin City City - Blue Brooklyn Center/Parnassus Prep Minneapolis Edison Minneapolis North Minneapolis Roosevelt St. Agnes Spectrum Suburban - Gold Minneapolis South Academy Force Providence Academy St. Paul Harding St. Paul Johnson SMB Suburban - Maroon Fridley Minneapolis Southwest Minneapolis Washburn St. Anthony St. Croix Lutheran St. Paul Central St. Paul Highland Park City - Red Breck Columbia Heights Concordia Academy Minneapolis Henry Mound Westonka St. Paul Como Park West Metro North Andover Anoka Blaine Centennial Champlin Park Coon Rapids Osseo Totino-Grace West Eden Prairie Edina Hopkins Maple Grove Minnetonka Prior Lake Shakopee Wayzata Independent Minnesota Academy for the Deaf LeRoy-Ostrander St. Paul Humboldt Class 5A Class 4A Class 3A Class 2A Class 1A 9-Man Class 5A Class 4A Class 3A Class 2A Class 1A 9-Man Section 1AAAAA Section 2AAAAA Section 3AAAAA Section 4AAAAA Section 5AAAAA Section 6AAAAA Section 7AAAAA Section 8AAAAA Section 1AAAA Section 2AAAA Section 3AAAA Section 4AAAA Section 5AAAA Section 6AAAA Section 7AAAA Section 8AAAA Section 1AAA Section 2AAA Section 3AAA Section 4AAA Section 5AAA Section 6AAA Section 7AAA Section 8AAA Section 1AA Section 2AA Section 3AA Section 4AA Section 5AA Section 6AA Section 7AA Section 8AA Section 1A Section 2A Section 3A Section 4A Section 5A Section 6A Section 7A Section 8A Section 1-9M Section 2-9M Section 3-9M Section 4-9M Section 5-9M Section 6-9M Section 7-9M Section 8-9M Class 6A