Cleat Geeks

2018 NFL Draft Prospect; Kolton Donovan

Every year the NFL Draft makes college kids household names. Most of them are quarterbacks or running backs or receivers. Every once in a while someone who plays a specialty position or someone who is taken in the latter rounds becomes a household name as well. There are names in this year’s NFL Draft who we all know and we all have read and listened to at noseum. But, there are tons of college players who are immensely talented, will play every Sunday, and also have a story to tell. Today, you will get to meet one of those people, a long snapper who played his college for two different schools. And even that, has an interesting story. Kolton Donovan opened up and explained his story to Cleatgeeks. We are excited, and

humbled to share his story with all of you.

Cleatgeeks: When a kid decides he or she is going to play football, most of then dream of being a quarterback, or a running back, or a wide receiver. What made you say, “I want to be a long snapper?”

Kolton Donovan: Growing up I actually played more baseball and basketball since my parents both played D1 in those sports. So I grew up wanting to be an professional baseball pitcher like my dad was. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I decided to play football and learned that my grandpa was an All-American center/snapper in his college years playing football. He would always tell me that he wanted me to be the next great Notre Dame quarterback in my childhood, but instead I picked up on snapping during my freshman year of high school and loved it. Eventually I had that opportunity to attend the University of Notre Dame, but turned it down and accepted my smallest offer from Southern Utah so I could serve an LDS Church Mission.


Kolton Donovan while playing for Southern Utah.

CG: You were raised in St George, Utah. What does a long snapper do for fun in St. George?

KD: There are a lot of things to do in St George, Utah. We have several state and national parks within an hour or two drive. There are always athletic tournaments going on since it is warm the majority of the year and several football fields to snap on. Also the Virgin River is a great place to go to cool down and go skim-boarding. But my favorite was hiking up to Dixie Rock that overlooks the city.

CG: St. George was named after George A. Smith, an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Being raised in an environment where over 70% of the population are LDS, what role has religion played in your life?

KD: Religion has played a large role in my life. Even though I lived in St George during my high school years, I moved around a lot throughout my young years. I wasn’t always in or around highly populated LDS areas and in a way that was a blessing because I had to learn about religion for myself and stand up for what I believe in. I can take comfort in a lot of things because I know there’s a God who loves me and all of His children. I am the man I am today because of my religion and I’m very grateful for that.

CG: The St. George community has produced 4 NBA players, 3 MLB players and 4 NFL players including Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots running back Corey Dillon. What would it mean to you to be added to that list?

KD: It would be amazing to be added to that list. There has been some great talent and athletes to come out of St George so it would be an honor to be in that list with them. Pine View High School and my coach (Ray Hosner) have never had an athlete in the NFL so I hope I can be the first one to represent them with that honor.

Kolton, and his loving, supportive family.

CG: What 3 people have had the greatest impact on your life? Why?

KD: First and foremost it has to be my parents. They raised me to be who I am today. They taught me right and wrong, how to work hard, and to help those who need it. I wouldn’t have this opportunity without their own hard work and belief in me. – My grandpa Donovan because he has always been my role model and hero. He worked harder than anyone I know and has left an uplifting impression on everyone he met. He always believed in me. – Ray Hosner because he taught me there is so much more to football than just playing it. It is about the people around you and the lives you are able to impact that matters the most.

CG: You were a graduate transfer from Southern Utah. You were hurt in your first game wearing a Wyoming jersey. And without playing another snap you were allowed to dress for your final regular season game. Were there people who felt that you did not deserve to dress because you did not “earn” that right on the field? How did you handle that opposition?

KD: There probably were people who thought that I didn’t deserve to dress in the bowl game and that’s okay. I don’t let things that are out of my control concern me. I was blessed to have the opportunity to wear the Wyoming uniform one more time and I’m very grateful for that. I will always be thankful to Wyoming and Cowboy Nation for allowing me the opportunity to finish out my college career as a Cowboy.

CG: Where are you at in your rehabilitation? Are you 100%? Should an NFL team label you an injury risk? Why or why not?

KD: I am nearly done with my rehabilitation and feeling great! I will be ready to go for mini camp and training camp. The surgeon who operated on me is one of the best in the business. He has operated on several NFL, NBA, and even Olympic athletes. Many of which are still playing their sport today and performing at a very high level. With that being said, I wouldn’t say I am an injury risk at all.

An 18 year old Kolton on his LDS Mission trip.

CG: What is a graduate transfer?

KD: A graduate transfer gives an athlete, like myself, an opportunity to continue their education (by pursuing a masters degree after obtaining their bachelors degree) that wasn’t offered by their original institution.

CG: What was the biggest thing you learned under coach Craig Bohl at Wyoming?

KD: Coach Bohl is one of the great football minds I’ve been around. He is very knowledgeable about the game and will be a hall of fame coach someday because of everything he’s accomplished. He taught me to learn football from an outside the box perspective to I can understand the whole game instead of just special teams.

CG: Have you been able to talk to Jesse Hooper, who looks as though he is going to be the next Cowboy’s long snapper as of yet?

KD: Yes, I actually got to help with the recruiting of Jesse. I knew who Jesse Hooper was because I am from Utah like he is and not very many long snappers come out of Utah. He messaged me last year introducing himself and sent his film over too. He was really good and so I sent his film over to the recruiting office. He will do a great job at Wyoming and excited to see what he does there.

CG: While at Southern Utah you were able to do at a young age what most of us never get to do, go on a mission trip. How old were you? Where did you go? How did that experience effect your life today?

KD: I was 18 years old when I was called to serve in the San Antonio/Austin, Texas mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a great experience for me even though it was really hard. I got to perform service projects for the poor and needy. I helped people find peace during hard times and trials. I got to meet a lot of amazing people and learn things I couldn’t have learned in other ways. I’m also still in contact with a lot of people I met on my mission. Those lessons I learned have helped me grow and mature into the man I am today.

CG: You mentioned that you helped in the recruitment of Jesse Hooper. You also seemed really touched by your coaches. Do you think coaching is something you may pursue down the road?

KD: I love football and I love coaching/helping young players. My grandpa was a Hall of Fame high school coach in Montana so I feel like it is something that would come naturally to me too. So coaching is definitely a possibility, but I would definitely like to keep playing football for a while before I have to make that decision.

CG: What is a quality that you have that can’t be measured on a test or in the gym that every NFL team should know about?

KD: My biggest quality is my heart and the love I have for the game. There are many things that can be measured but it is impossible to open up someones chest and see what kind of heart they have. I have loved this game for a long time and I love it even more today. I love training and working hard, I love being out at practice, and I love being playing in games, especially in pressure situations.

CG: Complete this sentence for me. I want to be drafted by an NFL team that…….

KD: Will give me a chance and let me compete.

CG: If there is a kid reading this who is considering being a long snapper. What advice would you give that child?

KD: It is all about reps and the desire. If you believe you can do it, then you can do it. Every day is going to be a battle and a struggle, but don’t focus on the hardships instead focus on what this will do for your in the future. Work hard and don’t take a single day for granted. Most importantly though, have fun and love it.

CG: Give me an example when you were forced to overcome an obstacle, and how that challenge has made you a better man today.

KD: I would say my ACL injury was a decent obstacle I had to overcome. It took a few days to let it sink in before I realized that I had a real opportunity with this. I focused my mindset more on the perspective of “this isn’t a setback, but rather a great opportunity to learn and grow in the game of football and life”. There were a lot of things I was able to do that I never really had the time to do before like watching more film, helping teammates, observing coaches and their coaching strategies, hit the gym hard, and start working towards the NFL Draft. I wanted to get better and learn more about this game and this gave me a great chance to do that. I can honestly say that it didn’t stop me or slow me down, but instead helped me learn and grow in ways I didn’t think were possible.

CG: Who is the best teammate you have ever played with that no one knows who they are.

KD: One teammate I will never forget is KC Rawlinson. He was a senior and my roommate at Southern Utah University during my freshman year. He was an older (mid-late 20’s) military guy who worked harder than anyone I knew in the program. He walked on to the team and only played special teams, but everyone admired. In fall camp we had a military lecture and we were all given dog tags that said “THUNDER’ on them. Which stood for “Train Hard, Utilize Nutrition, Do Extra, and Rest”. This all came from KC and everything he did for the program. He ended up winning the “Tip of the Spear” award at the end of the year for his fearlessness on special teams and most feared by opposing teams.

CG: When an NFL team drafts you. What are the top 5 characteristics they are going to get from you on day 1 and everyday thereafter?

KD: 1. A drive for excellence 2. Passion for the game 3. First guy in and last guy out mentality 4. High character on and off the field 5. Desire to always win

CG: After the draft, and you officially make an NFL roster, who are the first 3 people you are going to thank? Why?

KD: My parents will be the very first people I thank because they have sacrificed so much and have believed in me ever since I started to play football. I wouldn’t be here without them. – My high school coach Ray Hosner because he always fought for me and gave me the opportunity to continue playing football past high school. – My snapper coach Ben Bernard because he always believe I could become an NFL long snapper. He’s spent several hours working with him and helping me become the best I could be. He is why my snapping dream is possible today.

Image result for kolton donovan wyomingCG: On October 30th you tweeted out from your official Twitter account, “Small minded people will always be small minded, so always be the bigger person.” What did you mean by that?

KD: Throughout the journey of life (and sports even), there will always be people who tell you what you can and cannot do. People say that so they can get a reaction from you or try to prove they are right because they couldn’t do it themselves. But instead of listening or taking offense, be the bigger person. Don’t hate them for it, but instead show them that it is possible. Be the person who encourages others and tells them “Hey, anything is possible if you believe and work hard for it”. Lift people up and encourage them because there will be a lot of great things that come from it.

CG: Where will you be and who will be with you during the 2018 NFL Draft?

KD: I will be in Texas with my wife. I’ve already apologized to her several times because I’ll probably have my phone on and checking it all the time. She’s been super supportive of this whole process and I’m very grateful for her.

CG: Give me something that is not sports related, that is on your bucket list.

KD: I would love to go to Ireland someday. My family is Irish so I would love to go there to see where my family is from, what life was like, and learn from the people there. I have a lot of respect for my family history and would love to learn more about it.

Authors Note; if you would like to see Kolton and the other talented college athletes perform, Wyoming’s pro day will be broadcast on the NFL Network tomorrow at noon EST.

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