By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – His first language is Bulgarian, his father is a hockey player turned truck driver, and he used to play rugby.
Meet new Iowa offensive line commit David Davidkov.
Davidkov announced his verbal commitment to Iowa on Monday via Twitter, becoming the 12th player to commit to Iowa's 2021 recruiting class.
The Winnetka, Ill., chose Iowa over a number of Power Five scholarship offers that included Ohio State, Michigan, Louisiana State and Wisconsin.
“I just see Iowa, ever since I’ve been recruited by them, as a perfect fit for me,” Davidkov said. “I’m doing this commitment for myself because I know this place will be the best for me. It’s been my feeling for the past seven months. The coaches there are just amazing, the best I’ve talked to out of any of the coaches.
“I just feel best there and where I feel best is where I reckon I’ll play best.”
The son of Bulgarian immigrants, Davidkov comes from humble beginnings.
Davidkov’s parents moved to the U.S. in the mid-1990s so his father, Emil, could pursue a hockey career. After finding it difficult to make money playing semi-professional hockey, Davidkov’s father found work as a truck driver. Davidkov’s mother, Elena, has since joined his father on the road.
With his parents spending long periods of time on the road and his older brother a freshman at Illinois, Davidkov often has to take care of his 11-year-old sister with the help of his aunt.
The connection to his humble upbringing is part of what drew Davidkov to Iowa.
“The hardworking characteristic and blue collar, humble, dedicated characteristic from the players and fan base and Iowa itself (stood out),” Davidkov said. “I really respect that and that’s something that, really, was held dearly to me.”
While Iowa is known for turning lesser-known prospects into stars, but Davidkov doesn't fit that stereotype.
Davidkov comes to Iowa as a four-star recruit, much like fellow Illinois natives and former Hawkeye offensive linemen Dace Richardson and Bryan Bulaga.
Richardson and Bulaga were both four-star recruits, and while Richardson struggled with injuries he earned first-team All-Big Ten as a senior.
Bulaga ended up being a first-round pick in the NFL Draft and after a 10-year stint with the Green Bay Packers, Bulaga is preparing for his first season with the Los Angeles Chargers.
"He’s just got some toughness to him and some grit, which I think fits really well with what Iowa stands for in their linemen and their run game and kind of the history with all that with coach (Kirk) Ferentz and what he brings to the table," Doll said. "I think the other thing is he’s very athletic."
Until the summer leading into his sophomore year of high school, Davidkov also played rugby.
As he geared up to go on the road to play in rugby tournaments, Doll was trying to move Davidkov to the varsity squad.
At that point, Davidkov’s love for football exceeded his love for rugby.
“It wasn’t really a decision for me,” Davidkov said. “It was like, I’ll do whatever I can to play football and just get my shot at football and whatever happens, happens.”
The skills and athleticism that the Davidkov developed playing rugby caused Doll to compare the 6-foot-6, 290-pound Davidkov to former Hawkeye offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs.
Wirfs was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 13 overall pick in last week’s NFL Draft and has gone viral on social media in the past for his rare athleticism despite his 6-foot-5, 322-pound frame.
“David has an ability to bend and run at a very high level for somebody his size,” Doll said. “I think that excites a lot of coaches, they can see him doing different things in the run game and the pass game with that. I’ve been very lucky to have a kid with that athletic ability at this level with that size. I think people will be shocked with how lean he is.”
Football fans that are unfamiliar with rugby might not understand scrums or rucking over –
But there is one thing in particular that fans of both sports can appreciate about Davidkov.
“(Rugby) taught me to hit and love hitting,” Davidkov said.