By: Diane Stirling
That one-in-a-million kind of opportunity was simply in the plan for Kevyn, a native of Florida who completed his undergraduate and graduate programs on football scholarship at Syracuse University over five years spent at the iSchool.
He came to college with a plan: never have just one plan. Kevyn intentionally made big dreams, hedged his bets, and concurrently pursued academic, corporate, and NFL careers. “It’s been just hard work, planning out my future, having back-up options,” Kevyn explained of his multi-layered successes.
Growing up with his dad a high school football coach, Kevyn said he saw “a lot of kids make the wrong decision go to college and take a one-path track, thinking they are heading to the NFL. Then, when that doesn’t happen, they’re stuck. I’ve also seen people go to the NFL and have a three-year career. With all that in mind, I decided to learn from other people’s mistakes,” he recounted.
The 5’11”, 208-pound cornerback decided to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree within his five-year scholarship span. That meant bulking up on courses and taking 12-credit semesters all of grad school, while playing the season, training for the NFL and fulfilling team community service requirements working with youth at the Justice Center.
His concerted efforts began converging a few weeks ago. He tried out for several NFL teams. Late in April, Kevyn began orientation with the Miami Dolphins. This weekend, the 23-year-old receives his second iSchool degree, an Information Management Master’s to bookend his bachelor’s in IM. After graduation, a literal homecoming accompanies full-time Dolphins training. The team’s stadium is just 10 minutes from his parents’ home in Miramar, meaning more time with the mom and dad who helped shape his values and his successes.
Several job offers have come along, but a confident Kevyn has turned them down temporarily for his NFL chance. “As a rookie, you have a three-year contract. If you do well, that could be four or five years. I’m planning on a long career, but if I don’t have that, I have two degrees, and I won’t be hesitant to start in the corporate world,” he observed. In 10 years, he said, Kevyn pictures himself retired from football, working in the top ranks as a consulting firm executive. “The iSchool does a good job, the curriculum really prepares you for a career in consulting by group work on projects and teams. The IM program prepared me well, and I really like the project management side of IM,” Kevyn relayed.
Kevyn’s academic excellence is well-documented. Last year, he was named Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American. In 2010, he was a ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-District Selection. He achieved Arthur Ashe Sports Scholars First Team selection in 2008 and 2009, and made the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll most semesters. He was on the Big East All-Academic team 2008 through 2011 while serving as team captain his SU senior year.
Great life lessons were learned on the field as well as in the classroom, Kevyn said. While his high school team won most games and went to state championships every year, the football years at Syracuse weren’t like that, and that was beneficial. “Playing football at SU, I loved it. We didn’t win the most games, but playing for Syracuse got me prepared for life. We had so much adversity, some losing seasons and some great seasons – like when we won the Pinstripe Bowl. It kind of helps you deal with the ups and downs of life, and it helps you persevere. You have to be able to handle failure just like you handle success.”
With a broad smile, a modest Kevyn sums up the outlook that got him to this moment. “From a young age, I was very motivated, I was just hungry for success. I guess there were times when I doubted, or felt like giving up. But I tell people, ‘Go out there and catch your dreams, don’t just chase them, go out and catch them, and don’t give up.’”