Denzel Duvall – Forgoing Pro Football to be Player Development Personnel Assistant at Bama
By: Larry Burton
Denzel Duvall was a linebacker who came in with the 2012 class and finished this past season. Upon finishing his senior year he had a plan A and plan B, this is something that was asked of him during his time in a uniform. Plan A was to play professional football player, plan B was to use both his degree in kinesiology, (the same degree that Alabama’s famous strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran has), was to go into training and coaching.
Hampered by a nagging hamstring injury, he wasn’t drafted in this spring’s NFL draft, he didn’t pan out in a tryout with the rams and turned down an invite with the Baltimore Ravens. He didn’t want to be one of those guys who bounce from place to place, try out in Canada or play arena football. He have it his best shot, it didn’t work out, so on to plan B.
He had offers to talk to various schools with various jobs, but his relationship with Saban and his ties to Alabama led him to talk to Saban who offered him the job of Player Development Personnel Assistant. That’s a mouthful and most don’t know exactly what a job with that title entails.
He tells his hometown paper, the Bastrop Daily Enterprise, in Bastrop, Louisiana, “It’s mainly geared toward operations,” said Devall, who helped Alabama to two national titles as a linebacker/defensive end. “Basically, we handle anything to do with player problems, so all the coaches have to do is coach.”
Devall, who kept his nose clean and walked the straight and narrow as a player while earning a valued degree in a lucrative field is certainly someone the members of team will listen to. Almost all the players know him, admire him and understand he’ll understand whatever needs they have he can help them with.
You may not be surprised to find him with players in the weight room, hanging out with them in the athletic center and other places, but you won’t see him actively coaching in practices or on the sidelines during games. But his degree in kinesiology means that he is schooled in strength and conditioning, rehabilitation, physical therapy, sports exercise as well as sports psychology and more. That is why you may see him in so many areas around the school. He’s also going to help athletes with class and degree help and just general counseling.
“I touch base with academics, I touch base with recruiting and I touch base with players who need somebody to talk to,” said Devall, “It fits me because I am basically doing what I did when I was on the team. I’m fresh and I have ideas to share with the players and help them out. It’s a win-win situation.”
What he means by that is that being one of the leaders on the team while a player, he’s used to already doing most of what he’ll be asked to do and it may not hurt to have a Louisiana native on staff to tell potential recruits from that area how great life is for a player in this part of the country. Indeed, as a player, Devall helped talk to and pull in recruits and it’s easy to see him doing this in his present role when recruits come by for a visit.
He and Saban has a good working relationship and Devall is not sad about what didn’t happen in his professional playing career, but grateful and anxious to start this new chapter of life in sports, this one without pads and a jersey. “At the end of the day, God has a plan for you. It may not be your plan, but if you believe in it, it will work.” Devall told his hometown paper, and we believe it will.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter