Monday, September 06, 2004
By Jeff Dunnavant
UofA Media Relations
Every kid dreams of being a hometown hero. And when you're born and raised in Alabama and your father played for the "Bear", it's only natural to dream of one day donning a Crimson jersey yourself. When the two are combined, it seems as though David Cavan was destined to play for the Tide.
"It's a dream come true to suit up everyday and wear the crimson jersey of Alabama," said Cavan, a senior tight end for the Crimson Tide. "I dreamed of this as a kid and used to spend my afternoons playing backyard football with my friends and pretending I was playing for Alabama."
A Tuscaloosa native and graduate of American Christian Academy, Cavan is living out his childhood dreams on the football fields at the University of Alabama and relishing every moment. But as glorious as Cavan's dreams may have been in his backyard, he never could have prepared himself for the struggles that have hit him since his freshman season at the Capstone.
Entering school in the fall of 2000 it took two years before he saw playing time. After a redshirt year in 2000 and a 2001 campaign in which he didn't see varsity action, Cavan looked doubtful for 2002 when he underwent knee surgery prior to spring drills. But hard work and dedication saw Cavan return to fall camp healthy and in his first start versus Middle Tennessee State he recorded his first career touchdown reception from 15 yards out. However, four games into the season Cavan suffered yet another setback, a head injury against North Texas that sidelined him for four games.
In 2003 he returned the lineup as an effective blocking force in Alabama's run game, but after breaking his right hand he was forced to play the entire season with a cast that terribly hindered his ability to catch the ball. Throughout the season he fought off other nagging injuries until yet another knee surgery finally sidelined him for the final three games.
"It's been frustrating and extremely tough to constantly have injuries pop up that I can't control," said Cavan.
But despite being frustrated by his injuries, Cavan has managed to keep the right perspective that has allowed him to overcome the odds and continue chasing his dream.
"Sure, it's been tough for me at times," said Cavan, "but it has really made me mentally tougher than I was before. "Really, an ACL tear here and an injury there is nothing compared to what many others have to suffer through in life."
Head strength coach Kent Johnston and Cavan have worked together since his surgery to prepare him for the 2004 season. The two have gone through early morning workouts before anyone else reports to late evening rehab well after everyone has gone home. By now the hard work involved in getting back to playing shape is something Cavan is all too familiar with.
"Coach Johnston has helped me out so much and I've just had to work extra hard," Cavan said. "All this has made me tougher mentally and that's the way I have to approach it."
One person that has helped Cavan through the pains and struggles that he's fought through since playing at Alabama has been someone who knows the situations well, his father Pete, who was a player at Alabama from 1975-77.
"I turn to my father when there's something that I really need help with because he's been in these situations before and has really experienced all the same things that I've had to deal with," said Cavan.
But Cavan also relishes being a second generation player and the history that goes along with it, especially having the opportunity to share the experience beside teammates Brodie Croyle, Matt Miller and Tim and Simeon Castille, each a second generation player at Alabama.
"This is something that is real special," said Cavan. "I take it to heart and know that every time I set foot on that field I'm representing not only my family and my teammates, but we're all representing everyone who has ever played here and all the fans that have supported us."
As he enters his senior season, Cavan still can't hide from the injury bug quite yet. He wears a brace on the knee in which he tore the ACL, but it's all a slight reminder of where he has had to come from to get to where he is going.