Nice article on Kevin Dotson
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Joined: Apr 2017
05-08-2020, 01:35 AM

Kinda excited to see the kid next year. His dad raised him well. 

“It’s crazy because I was a bouncer for the last two years,” Dotson said after the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the fourth round of the NFL draft. “It’s kind of accurate, but I’m pretty technical in my hand usage. So, I feel like people try to put you in a box just because you’re strong. As soon as they hear you’re strong, they say you’re a brawler. They kind of just take everything else out.”

Like his playing style, Dotson’s approach to bouncing in downtown Lafayette, Louisiana, was more than just physical.

“People get real rowdy when they get drunk,” Dotson said. “The person that normally wouldn’t do it, usually gets brave, and you got to put a lid on that. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, like, 'Hey bro, you’ve got to chill out.’ I’ll tell them that the first time, that they need to chill out or get kicked out. Try to give them a chance.”

Most of the time, a mean mug from the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Dotson was enough.
“I don’t want to have to throw you out,” Dotson told them. “Either you can come out here, or I’m going to have to do it to you.”

Dotson might have a brawler reputation on the field, but off it, his dad Kelcy worries he might accidentally address his new Steelers teammates -- his peers -- as "yes, sir," and "no, sir." That’s just how Kevin and his twin brother, Kenny, were raised.

That combination of strength and character is exactly what made the Steelers pick Kevin their second selection in the fourth round -- and what makes him a viable candidate to fill Ramon Foster’s spot at starting left guard.

“He is truly the old school, tough football player,” said Rob Sale, the University of Louisiana’s offensive line coach. “It comes back from the way he was raised from his dad.”

Kevin wasn’t one of the 337 players invited to the NFL combine.
He wasn’t among the 114 at the Senior Bowl, either.

“That’s one of the biggest snubs I’ve ever been a part of,” said D.J. Looney, Louisiana’s assistant offensive line coach. “This guy was a consensus All-American, started over 50 games. There’s not a blemish on his record. I think that was bulls---.”

It didn’t matter to the Steelers. After being impressed with Kevin in the East-West Shrine game, they used the No. 135 pick overall on him, making him the first player selected in the 2020 draft who didn’t get a combine invite -- a feat especially noteworthy since the coronavirus pandemic curbed the evaluation process.

That combine snub doesn’t bother Kevin. His mantra keeps him from focusing on things that would drive other guys crazy.

“If I can do something about it, then why worry?” Kevin said, repeating his favorite phrase. “And if I can’t do anything about it, then why worry? So I feel like if I can do something about it to change the outcome of it, then there’s no need for me to get mad, frustrated because I can do something about it. If I can’t do anything about it, then it’s just nothing that I can possibly do to change it, then I can’t do anything about it. Then there’s no point in worrying about that either.”

With his own pro day canceled, Kevin enlisted the help of Looney and went through a virtual pro day where he ran a 4.8 40-yard dash and sent his tape out to teams. And without access to a weight room, Kevin had to get creative with his strength training. So he grabbed the back of his truck -- a rental at the time -- and heaved it backward, muscling it down the driveway as fishing rods poked out of the bed. A video of the feat racked up nearly 180,000 views on Twitter before the draft.

“That was me not having any weights at the time,” Kevin said. “Just kind of trying to find a way to move some heavy weight.”

That’s how Kevin works: He always finds a way. He learned that from his father, a longtime Steelers fan.

Kelcy played linebacker at Louisiana (then Louisiana-Lafayette), but playing in the NFL wasn’t in the cards.

Instead of playing professional football, Kelcy raised his twin boys, who were born during his senior year. By the time they were 3, the twins were his sole responsibility. Kelcy and their mother had separated. He was awarded full custody and took over all parenting duties. He began instilling a strong work ethic in the boys from the time they were 7 or 8.

Once, little league football practice was canceled, but Kelcy, the team’s coach, went home and conducted practice for Kevin and Kenny in their backyard.

“It was probably top-three hardest workouts I’ve ever done in my life,” Kevin said. “And that was at 8. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is ridiculous.' Having my dad, I knew I would go 100 percent for him."

Kelcy also ensured his kids prioritize education over everything.

The pair took classes at the magnet program associated with Plaquemine (Louisiana) High School. There, they had access to a variety of extracurricular activities not available to most high school students. Kevin and Kenny opted to participate in the school’s theater program, mostly running the lights for shows. Once, they were actually in the school’s ballet.

“We were the muscle for the show,” Kenny said. “We had to walk the girls around above our head. Throw them and pick them up, put them down, pick them up, throw them around.

“They pretty much volunteered us, and we went along with it.”

During Kevin’s sophomore year, Kelcy, an assistant principal at the high school, got a phone call that Kevin had copied part of his paper from his twin and turned it in. Plaquemine had a district football game that evening, and family had driven in from Mississippi just to watch the twins.
That didn’t matter to Kelcy.

When Kevin came on the field that afternoon, Kelcy sent him straight back into the locker room with his laptop and made him write the paper during the football game.

“It was tough for him, but it was tough for me, too,” Kelcy said. “You never want to see your kids hurt. He was hurt. But it needed to happen for him to realize what came first. That was my whole point, to get him to understand that.”

When Kevin’s five years at Louisiana were finished, he had started 52 of 53 possible games and was a first-team Associated Press All-American.

“My redshirt freshman year, my first game in, it was so hard to have to sit on the sideline when I had to redshirt,” Kevin said. “It’s a thing that got instilled to me of not sitting on the sideline ever again. That’s the main reason why I started for the rest of my career. I just knew I was not going to lose that spot again.”

A core muscle injury forced him to miss a couple snaps against Tulane in the 2018 Cure Bowl, but Kevin wasn’t on the sideline for long.

“I said, he better get his butt back in there because he knows if you ain’t injured, you need to get your butt back in the game,” Kelcy said. “That’s how we live around here.”

Though Kevin played every game of his collegiate career at right guard, Sale is confident he can make the transition to the other side of the line seamlessly. During bowl prep last year, Sale reduced Kevin’s team snaps to keep him healthy and worked him at left guard in all of the individual drills.

“When you get so many snaps at one position and you’re right-handed and on your right side, you wonder, are you going to be awkward going to the other side?" Sale said. "But, when he went over there, it was just like riding a bike. He had no issues at all, which was good to see. He did every drill for two and a half weeks.”

During Kevin's five years in Lafayette, his lower half caught up with his upper half, and by his senior season, he coupled his large frame with a good amount of speed. The Steelers started looking at him during his junior season, and continued to be impressed by his development as a senior. With the open left guard spot created by Foster’s retirement shaking up the Steelers’ offensive line, Kevin will be in the mix with younger linemen like Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor and free-agency acquisition Stefen Wisniewski for playing time in 2020.

“He is a people-mover,” Steelers offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett said. “When you watch this guy, he runs through people, now. And he can move them off the point of attack. When you see that on college film, it just grabs your eye.”

Despite playing against smaller opponents in the Sun Belt conference, Kevin’s development, strength and competitive fire makes those who know him best believe that he can compete for the day one starting spot.

“He is old school Steeler tough,” Sale said. “I was a freshman when Alan Faneca just left LSU and got drafted by Pittsburgh. That’s what I know as a Pittsburgh Steelers. He is a cut-off from Louisiana, tough dude. That’s what Kevin is. He’s getting a tough one. He’s going to play for a long time.”

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(This post was last modified: 05-08-2020, 01:48 AM by Chucktownsteeler.)

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