Three years ago Trevor Kohl started his senior season at Gilbert Mesquite High School, garnering no attention from college recruiters.
Today, the junior is a starting tight end for the ASU football team and receiving heavy praise from the top of the totem pole.
“[Kohl] is our best blocker, he’s very physical,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. “He’s a guy on our team that can block defensive ends, which is what you’ve got to do at tight end.”
As his high school career came to a close, Kohl was left with few options if he wanted to continue his football career.
“I told my dad, ‘Give me a year to do it,’” Kohl said. “I saw reality and knew it would be a challenge, but that’s the way it’s got to be.”
Mesa Community College was Kohl’s first solution to overcoming the challenge.
“Honestly just going home everyday and looking at my little brother, all I wanted to do was create a path for him,” Kohl said. “I remember going to junior college, which isn’t much of a difference from high school and he was still excited, [saying] ‘My brother plays college football.”’
Although the then 18-year-old didn’t light up the stat sheet with receptions at MCC, Kohl says it’s where he really learned to get his blocking down.
At the conclusion of one season in Mesa, Kohl decided it was time to try his luck at the next level.
After seeing him workout as a walk-on, the ASU coaching staff agreed.
“I was excited, Sparky is all through the house,” Kohl said. “It’s just the way it is, my home is only 10 or 15 minutes away so we live and breathe Sun Devil football.”
A few injuries later and the first-year Division I player found himself on the field for the final eight games of 2009.
“As soon as I got my first playing time, that’s all there was, just screaming fans,” Kohl said. “You’re a hero, you can’t sleep, you just want to be on that field all the more.”
After catching just four passes in his first season, and earning the starting role in the spring when ASU junior Dan Knapp switched to offensive tackle, Kohl is hoping to play a bigger role in the offense this fall.
“I want to be able to be in the backfield, be in the slot, be in the tight end position, I want them to trust me,” Kohl said. “I was able to keep my strength, which helps with the blocking and then lose some weight which helps me with the speed, so I feel really confident out there.”
Of the three potential starting quarterbacks, Kohl maintains he has a good rapport with each candidate.
“I hang out with Brock [Osweiler] a lot. With [Steven] Threet and Samson [Szakacsy] we still talk a lot, we’re all friends,” he said. “The quarterback has got to trust you, [and] make sure you can catch the ball no matter what, so hopefully I’ll prove it to them that I’ll be that guy.”
Despite his modesty, the former walk-on has already proven that same point to his coach.
“He catches the football. He’s a lot more athletic than people think,” Erickson said. “But the biggest thing is his toughness and how physical he is.”
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