When Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald started to recruit Quentin Davie, he saw a player who played multiple positions and was "a jack of all, master of none."
Davie played quarterback, tight end and linebacker for Cardinal Ritter College Prep in St. Louis, where he also earned letters in basketball and track. Long and lean at 6-4 and 200 pounds, Davie drew interest from some colleges that wanted him to play wide receiver. He settled on Northwestern, which planned to use him at his desired position: linebacker.
But the shuffling didn't stop in college. Davie's unique size and skill set prompted Northwestern's coaches to play him at both outside linebacker spots.
"When the NFL scouts come by," Fitzgerald said, "I'm not trying to make an excuse for Q, but we've had him play two positions for multiple years.
"I can only imagine how good of a player he could be and will be if he only had to play one position."
Davie's versatility is paying off so far this season. He leads the Big Ten in both interceptions (3) and passes defended (5), and is on pace to lead Northwestern (3-0) in tackles for the second consecutive season.
After recording the first pick-six of his career in Saturday's win at Rice, Davie earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors. But he's far from satisfied.
"It's an accomplishment," he said Monday. "Obviously, I want to keep getting better and be consistent throughout the season. It'd be great if I could get [Big Ten] Defensive Player of the Year. That'd be a better honor."
Davie has put himself in the mix with the quick start.
He made plays as an effective blitzer throughout his first three seasons, recording 22.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. But he had only one interception entering his senior year.
Davie spent much of the offseason working on his drops in pass coverage with linebackers coach Randy Bates. His interceptions have been relatively easy, in part because he's consistently in the passing lanes.
"Last year, there were some times [Bates] pointed out to me where I didn't drop at all and they just threw the ball over my head," Davie said. "I knew I was hurting my DBs by not dropping, so to help them out, I worked on that and tried to get deeper drops. It goes with being older and getting more patient to know you're not going to go get the quarterback all the time, so you have to get back."
Davie could have had another interception at Rice but dropped the ball, a fact Fitzgerald doesn't hesitate to point out.
"I make fun of him when he drops one because I only had two and I dropped about 12 in my career," said Fitzgerald, a Hall of Fame linebacker at Northwestern. "I can't forget those drops."
Davie showed flashes as a young player but truly blossomed in 2009 after transforming his body in the prior offseason. He went from 215 pounds in 2007-08 to 225 in 2009 and has since bulked up to 230.
Despite his height, adding the weight was a challenge. He became a Chipotle regular.
"Every offseason, I'd hear smack from coach Fitz, like, 'Go eat a sandwich,'" Davie said. "That was his favorite phrase. It wasn't easy. At first, I thought I had tapeworm or something.
"But we have a great nutritionist and I got up to the weight I needed to be, 230."
Davie's physical development is only one step in his maturation process.
In May, he proposed to his longtime girlfriend Alexandra Richardson underneath the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Davie had planned a Mother's Day dinner for both his family and Richardson's, and gathered everyone by the Arch. He told his brother to take pictures.
When Davie dropped to a knee, everyone was surprised, including his brother.
"He only got one picture," Davie said.
No date has been set for the wedding, as Davie's focus remains primarily on football. He already achieved one of his senior-year goals to be a co-captain. Another goal is to be All-Big Ten.
Davie also finds himself on the NFL radar.
"I'm looking forward to [the NFL] a lot," he said, "but when I get in this football facility, I have to erase all those thoughts and think about this season and how I can help this team reach the goals that we set and that I set for myself."