NFL prospect is more than just a football player
Football, politics and leadership are three of the many words that describe the football team's senior free safety, Davonte Shannon.
Shannon is the only player in school history to have been named to the All-Mid-American Conference First Team three times, and is currently ranks sixth in school history with 341 career tackles. The 6-foot-2-inch hard-hitting safety is also the first Bull in the football program's Division I FBS era to be named the College Football Insider Preseason All-American Team after earning the honor prior to the start of this season.
But what really makes Buffalo's top National Football League prospect special is his ability to be a leader in the locker room and mentor on the field.
"I always considered myself a leader in the way I play," Shannon said. "It was important to me to become more of a leader in the instance of being able to communicate with my players and get the extra effort out of them."
Shannon crafted his leadership skills by following in the footsteps of his former teammates, including Naaman Roosevelt and Drew Willy. Following their example helped him to learn what it takes to become a leader in a Division I football program.
But one former teammate in particular has guided Shannon to become the player he is today.
Current Indianapolis Colt Mike Newton accompanied Shannon in the defensive secondary during the first three years of Shannon's career at UB Stadium. Newton helped the Jeannette, Pa. native learn the ups and downs of the game of football from training in the weight room, learning the playbook, preparing on game day and executing on the field.
"It was tough coming into camp and not seeing him right beside me," Shannon said. "The first three years that I've been here he's always been right there. Just being able to see him beside me and have that trust in him was a big part of my success."
As one of the only current Bulls to have been on the team during the 2008 MAC Championship season, Shannon's veteran experience and knowledge made it easy for new head coach Jeff Quinn to count on the senior to take on a role of not only player, but coach on the field during practices and games.
While many have recognized Shannon for his work in a blue and white helmet, most don't realize that Shannon's commitment exceeds off the football field.
Shannon has been an active member in the UB political community and ran for a delegate position in the Student Association race last spring as a member of the ONE Party.
Shannon surprised many people with his dedication as a member of the ONE Party, including his running mate, Ryan Linden, a senior accounting major.
"When we first approached Davonte, I wasn't sure about his interest in [the campaign] because he's very busy with the team," Linden said. "I was really surprised. He's actually a really modest guy… He wanted to get involved around campus and it was great working with him. He worked well with us because he's such a team player."
Although the election didn't turn out in his favor, the experience of campaigning in the political world has helped shape Shannon's character.
"It opened my eyes to a lot. Just to be able to connect to the community is what I wanted to do," Shannon said. "It was a great experience for me being with the ONE Party. Even though we lost, it was a great feeling just to experience that."
Politicians and athletes are more than often trained to tell the public what they want to hear, and are often insincere with their feelings and emotions. But when you talk to people who spend time with Shannon, you will find that he is exactly who he says he is.
"Davonte is very interested in being active in both his school and his community," said Associate Athletic Director Paul Vecchio. "He's just a guy that really likes people and likes to build relationships. I think wherever he is in his life, he's going to make a difference."