Former USF cornerback Kayvon Webster was with his family when he received the phone call.
It was a call that made his dreams turn into reality and sent him and his family into a surge of excitement.
In the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, with the No. 90 overall pick, the Denver Broncos saw something in Webster and made him the first USF player to go in this year’s draft and the eighth defensive back in USF history to be drafted.
“I was excited,” Webster said. “(The Broncos) were my favorite team growing up, so it’s like a little kid growing up and seeing his dreams come true.”
Typically in the NFL Draft, players drafted have some idea of what team will pick them — whether because of multiple phone calls or workouts with the team — but for Webster, who didn’t have any contact with the team prior to the draft or team workouts, it was unexpected.”
After putting up impressive stats in the NFL Combine this past year, including ranking No. 14 overall in the 40-yard dash at 4.41 seconds and performing on par with other defensive backs’ vertical jump and broad jump statistics, another opportunity given to select athletes, and with the 5-foot-10, 195-pound corner’s raw talent, Webster said he believes the Broncos see a bright future ahead of him.
“I think they saw the speed, that I was aggressive and that I had a good combine workout,” he said. “They saw that if I can get around somebody like (Broncos cornerbacks) D.R.C. (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), Champ (Bailey) and Chris Harris that I can develop into an elite athlete.”
While corners like Rodgers-Cromartie and Harris in the lineup can certainly give a few pointers to the rookie Webster, he can also gain knowledge from a high- profile player such as Bailey, who is going on his 15th season in the NFL.
In addition to Bailey, it won’t hurt Webster to have a living legend playing across from him at practice throwing the ball — someone who has picked apart his fair share of defenses — quarterback Peyton Manning.
“Peyton and I exchanged a few words — he was asking me if I was ready, and of course I’m in the same meeting room as Champ and D.R.C.,” Webster said. “There are a lot of veteran guys. It can get overwhelming at times, but I got a job to do and that’s what I’m here for.”
Even with athletes who can double as celebrities surrounding Webster, as an NFL player, playing football is no longer an extracurricular. It’s his profession.
“I wouldn’t say I was starstruck,” he said. “They’re human beings as well, but it was cool to get to talk to them with them being as high profile as they are. They’re down- to-earth people that you can talk to and text.”
With rookie minicamp in Denver last weekend, going forward will be a learning experience for Webster, and with Champ leading the charge at corner, he’ll have plenty to learn.
Webster had a long career at USF. In 2009, he played in all 13 games, starting in six, and totaling 30 tackles with an interception and a forced fumble. He went on to appear in 13 games the next year with 29 tackles, then flourished in 2011, when he had seven pass breakups with two picks, a forced fumble and 49 tackles.
Upon graduating this year, after a less-than-stellar season for the Bulls as a whole, he started in 11 of the season’s 12 games and recorded six pass breakups with a career-high 82 tackles.
Now joining a defense that finished top three in passing, rushing and total yards allowed while also finishing fourth in points allowed last year, the lessons for Webster have just begun.
While he describes Denver as being more laid back having more
to do there than in Tampa, he hasn’t really given himself the chance to enjoy his first time living outside of the Sunshine State.
His mind is set on football and finding his role on the team, he said.
“I think I can work on having better eye placement, try to grab some more interceptions and just contribute to the team at whatever job they have me doing,” he said. “I’m just anxious to learn from everybody. I’m going to play whatever they ask me to play.”
With Webster ready and willing to make an impact, looking back on his USF days, especially after a struggling season, it wasn’t easy for him or his teammates to get drafted to the NFL.
“We didn’t win a lot of games in college so we kind of took it the hard way into the league,” Webster said. “We grinded for everything we have.”
With that season, along with his days as a Bull, now behind him the memory that probably stands out the most for Webster is the moment that made his dreams come true—the phone call.
His family, he said, is proud.
“Everybody was screaming jumping up and down and my mom was crying and my dad was proud of me as well. I think he wanted to cry, too,” Webster said. “I think everyone is happy for me because they see how hard I worked to get to this point. I’m just very thankful to be here. A lot of people don’t get this opportunity.”