The historic motto of the University of Southern California is to “fight on”, a battlecry Devon Birdwell fully understands.
Birdwell’s a lifelong Trojan fan.
He’s also a fan of history.
“I like learning about different cultures. I like how it teaches you about the past and our origins.”
The junior offensive lineman went on to mention that, “I’ve been very fortunate to be able to witness a different culture firsthand, from experiencing a different country’s culinary aspects, to its religion and history.”
Birdwell has visited Italy, Greece, and has even taken a cruise through the Carribean.
Los Angeles, which is 2,173 miles from Birdwell’s home state of Georgia, can be a type of culture shock to some too.
Birdwell’s parents had both attended USC and he speaks highly of them. From attending USC games with his parents, to going on trips to Europe, to being able to attend football camps, Birdwell considers his parents to be the “best in the world.”
“They’ve given me the utilities and resources to discover what I like to do and really discover myself. They’re very supportive of everything I do.”
His dream of “playing by the beach” follows his family’s tradition. But rightnow, the junior offensive lineman is focused on carrying on the Buford High School football tradition.
“[Buford] has a legacy of being successful,” he says. “It’s about honoring those who came before you and never letting that tradition die.”
With any legacy comes history, and that history is a history of winning. Buford’s legacy involves winning 12 state championships, the 12th of which Birdwell was a part of in 2019.
Birdwell states that, “It’s not just about being great athletes, but also about being great men.”
Great men are found in people like Buford head coach Bryant Appling. Birdwell describes Appling as, “a very great guy. He’s inspirational when he needs to be and knows exactly how to motivate us before games.”
Buford is about great coaches never letting an athlete get stagnant and notbeing afraid to “get on you,” when needed. A great coach according to him is, “someone who can push you and makes you better. He has to be able to be the bad guy when needed.”
To Birdwell, Appling exemplifies this.
Buford football is an extended brotherhood that encompasses th whole community. Birdwell has embraced this side of the Buford legacy. He’s volunteered packing lunches and helping with production sets for 12 Stone Buford Church.
Back on the field, he’s paved the way creating gaps for his backs while also protecting them.
“My mindset is about protecting those behind you and not letting anyone get hurt,” Birdwell says.
Birdwell does that and more.
According to Blue 57 scout Lucas Thorp, who watched film of Birdwell, “he loves to finish his blocks and is trying to drive the defensive player through the turf or through the back of the endzone every play.”
Blue 57 is a college football scouting service who base part of their analysis and reports on studying thepersonality and psychology of an athlete. They focus on helping to bridge the gap in relationships between players and coaches.
Continuing with his analysis, Thorp said “He has great feet and moves like a much smaller player …. and is consistently one of the first off the line at the snap.”
Blue 57 sports psychologists Kaela Harmon spoke about Birdwell, stating that, “Birdwell will choose a college primarily for academics and most likely an institution with an interesting background history. He’s reserved and quiet off the field, but rises up as a giant in competition. He really enjoys the family culture that he’s established with his Buford teammates, along with the motivation to win and demanding of success that comes from his coaches.”
The coronavirus for many like Birdwell will impede things, like offseason team workouts. The offseason is where one usually has to “put on the mass” and then maintain it right up until the season starts.
Like most of the world, it has given Birdwell time to catch up on Netflix.However, his goal is to not go “backwards” and be a step behind when the fall season begins.
“After the coronavirus hit, I didn’t have access to a gym. But now, I’m about to build a home gym. Just got the stuff delivered to do it.”
As the Trojan motto goes, Birdwell continues to “fight on.”
“It’s been about pushing myself to get to where I want to go. I have to do everything in my power to reach my end goals,” Birdwell said.
Simson Garcia is a contributor for The Subway Alum who scouts and analyzes for the Blue 57 Scouting Network. He writes on college football recruiting and analyzes athletes in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama.