Adversity-stricken backstories are not uncommon among the near-2,000 players in the National Football League. Growing up in poverty, or dangerous neighborhoods, often serve as a platform to develop the work ethic required to reach the sport’s highest honor. Additionally, injuries can cut a premiere prospect’s career tragically short.
For Davon Godchaux, it was all of the above.
The target of a 2012 drive-by shooting, Godchaux’s twin brother, Devin, was mixed up with a bad crowd. Unfortunately, this was nothing new for the family from Plaquemine, Louisiana.
Incarcerated at the time of his birth, Godchaux never knew anything other than growing up with a single-mother. Unable to work due to a medical condition, Albertha Godchaux and her six children, were evicted from their shot-up-home during Davon’s junior year.
That adversity bestowed a fire within Davon – something he would need to rekindle just one year later.
Barely 10 minutes into his senior season at Plaquemine High, Godchaux suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his right knee.
Just one year later, Godchaux worked himself into the defensive line rotation at LSU. 12-months removed from major knee surgery, the true freshman would go on to pile up 40 total tackles and one forced fumble.
Brimming with talent, the 19-year-old demonstrated the desire and discipline required to play at the next level. But before he could do that, he needed to serve two more years at the college level.
After racking up six sacks and nine tackles for loss, Godchaux was named to the pre-season all SEC second-team heading into his junior season. With another 6.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss, Godchaux nearly doubled his numbers of total tackles (37 to 62.)
Three years of dominating the best conference in college football was enough for Davon to test the next level — the pinnacle of football, the NFL.
Despite his stout build, terrific hands and pad level, Godchaux fell to the fifth round.
With Ndamukong Suh dominating one defensive tackle position for the Dolphins (and compensated as such,) Miami desperately needed a low-cost, impact player to pair with the future Hall of Famer.
And they found it.
Godchaux entered training camp firmly entrenched behind 2016 starter, and 2015 second-round-pick, Jordan Phillips, on the depth chart.
Through hard work came production. And through production, came recognition. After a dominating performance against the second and third stringers of the Atlanta Falcons, Godcaux was elevated to starter in pre-season game number two.
Chomping at the bit for his first regular season NFL action, Godchaux would have to delay his enthusiasm for another week. Hurricane Irma forced the NFL to post-pone the Dolphins week one game. In the meantime, Godchaux would relinquish his hard-earned starting gig to incumbent, Jordan Phillips.
The demotion wouldn’t prevent the Plaquemine kid from making an impact in his first NFL game. As the old adage goes, it isn’t about how you start, but rather how you finish. Despite coming off the bench, Godchaux would play 32 of the Dolphins 58 defensive snaps – second most among Miami defensive tackles.
It didn’t take long for Godchaux to make his impact. Here, the rookie teams up with Suh for a run stuff.
A myriad of changes has helped the Dolphins jump from the 30th ranked run defense in 2016, to the 5th best stop unit in 2017. Godchaux’s unrelenting motor and low pad level have certainly contributed to the turn-around.
In his third consecutive start, Godchaux made his greatest impact. Epitomizing his never give-up-attitude, Godchaux is beat on this play against the Tennessee Titans. Continuing to work his way back to the ball, he spins off his block and punches the ball out for a crucial Miami takeaway.
Defensive tackle isn’t a position that draws a lot of glory. Often, the job description consists of eating up double teams, and freeing up other players to steal the highlight. Grunt work is where Godchaux earns his pay check. Against the Falcons, he frequently took on a guard-center combination block, held his ground, and forced the back to find room elsewhere.
Most fifth round draft picks wash out of the league in a few short years. Even for the players taken at the top of the draft, year one can often be a transitional year as the player learns the intricacies of life as a professional.
Not for Davon Godchaux.
Fully entrenched in the Dolphins defensive line rotation, Godchaux has eaten up between 50-60% of the team’s defensive snaps in each of his first five games. He is an integral part of a a revamped Dolphins defense, that has Miami off to its first 4-2 start since 2003.
Football is the ultimate parallel to life. Just as in life, the game is a perpetual series of ups and downs. Defensive linemen learn from a young age that the low man wins.
And I would never bet against a young man as grounded as Davon Godchaux.
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