EVANSTON, Ill. -- Mary Davie-Younger has witnessed -- as have many watching Northwestern football this season -- her son Quentin Davie come into his own this season.
She sees the senior linebacker running down quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers all over the field. Her emotions skyrocketed every time he picked off a pass. Both mother and son were about to lose it when he returned his first career interception for a touchdown in last week's win over Rice.
"He was just yelling on the sideline," Northwestern senior Corbin Bryant said. "I've heard him yell, but not that much."
To Davie-Younger, though, it's more than just seeing Davie mature throughout his life -- Davie also got engaged on Mother's Day. She's felt a change in him.
"It's an instinct," she said. "It's a motherly instinct. I feel it in him when I'm around him. He's just determined to seize.
"I just knew it was coming, and I could tell he was committed and wanted it so bad. He's always been that type of kid if he works hard, he makes it happen."
Davie's defensive development isn't a complete surprise. He had always been someone Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald had high hopes for, and Davie began moving from potential to production as a junior. He had three sacks and two forced fumbles against Miami of Ohio. He had nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and one pass breakup against Purdue. He had nine more tackles against Minnesota.
Then, there was the Outback Bowl. He had been impressive during spurts of the regular season, but he put it all together against Auburn. He came up with nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and one pass breakup. He was acknowledged as an honorable mention selection on ESPN.com's All-Big Ten Bowl Team, and his performance pushed him into first on the team with 90 tackles for the season.
The difference for Davie in the Outback Bowl compared to his other games was he didn't have to think. He was just playing.
"I talked to the football gods before that game," Davie said. "It was like, ‘Just fly around.' I just ran around. It was fun. I did my job and good things happened."
Davie credited his preparation for that. He used to study film and Northwestern's opponents only as much as it was mandatory, but he never took it completely serious. It didn't add up until last season that understanding his past mistakes, his past successes and his opponents' tendencies would benefit him come Saturday.
As his numbers reflected last season, he began to realize as the season progressed that the more time he spent in the film room, the more productive he would be that week.
"When I prepared and watched a team nonstop, it translated to the game," Davie said. "I was able to go out there and perform and not think at all. It was just second nature out there, just running around the field. Earlier in the season, I would say I was getting bugs out. I was not studying the film as much as I should have."
Heading into his final season, consistency was the key word for Davie. His motivation was to show he could be that dominant linebacker game after game.
So far, he's achieved that. He's had a team-best 20 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, three interceptions and five pass deflections.
NFL scouts have taken notice, too. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. called Davie Northwestern's best NFL prospect. Fitzgerald has also been hearing from NFL teams.
"He's one heck of an athlete," Fitzgerald said. "He's a long-range guy. I know as the NFL scouts come by the 3-4 defenses are just drooling over him. That's the length they're looking for."
Davie has heard the hype, and he likes it, but he also not trying to get too far ahead of himself.
"It's an exciting time in my life," Davie said. "Every time I hear NFL prospect or something like that, it kind of lights me up and kind of burns a fire in me. I don't let it take over my life. It's one of those things that you have to do a job before you can obtain it."
Davie-Younger always envisioned Davie succeeding in whatever he chose to do. If it's playing in the NFL, she'll be a proud mother.
"Oh, gosh," she said. "I couldn't even describe my emotions that I would have. It's just something that a parent dreams of even in Little League. ‘My son is going to be in the NFL. My son is going to be in the NBA.' His dream is becoming a reality. I'm happy and count my blessings."