Note: The following feature article appeared in the Sept. 7 Stanford Gameday Magazine, which is available in Stanford Stadium.
Kevin Danser is a fifth-year senior on the offensive line. He enters his second season as a full-time starter and is on the preseason watch list for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football.
Q: What is your major and why did you select it?
A: Biomechanical engineering. I always knew that I wanted to do some kind of engineering. I talked to a few professors and I just loved learning about systems and devices; and what better system is there than the human body?
Q: Have your studies helped you at all on the football field?
A: I took a class, biomechanics of movement, which studies people’s gait, their walking form. I wish it correlated more to my 40-time but I’m really slow.
Q: What has been your favorite class at Stanford?
A: I took a class, mechanical systems design, and was paired with others for various group projects. For one of our projects we had to design and build a rabbit that could climb up a ramp. Other groups in the class averaged 30 seconds to climb this ramp and our group did it in four. It was really gratifying knowing that I could help build something that successful. So, yes, I can build a rabbit. We also had to build-in one thing that made it “rabbit-like,” so for some reason, we chose to make the rabbit poop. So we got some coffee beans, and every time it took a step, the rabbit would expel some coffee beans.
Q: Why did you choose Stanford?
A: It’s funny, actually looking back at it. I say it’s the best decision my mom ever made for me. She said, ‘Kevin, you’re either going to the Ivy League or to Stanford.’ I’ve loved every minute here; it’s been a great experience.
Q: What is it like playing your college football just up the road form your high school?
A: It’s a lot of fun. My family comes to every home game and has a huge tailgate. Its nice going into The Walk, I get to see them. On Sundays after home games, I can get a home cooked meal – it’s a great deal.
Q: You went to high school with Usua Amanam. What can you tell us about his development as a player and a person over the years?
A: We’ve actually spent the last nine years together. Usua has truly grown. At Bellarmine, Usua was just the absolute star athlete. He has all the talent on the earth. Through the entire experience (here), he has truly been down-to-earth. Its unbelievable how he’s become a man – he’s truly grown into the person he is today. He’s intelligent, a smart football player and smart in the classroom. He truly is an outstanding athlete and person in general.
Q: Can you explain the nuances of your position and provide something for the casual fan to observe to better understand effectiveness at your position?
A: Judging effectiveness on the offensive line would be to first look where the line of scrimmage is before the snap; then see how far a lineman can move a defender. Coach Bloomgren always says offensive line play is taking a man from point A to point B against his will. Our job is to get as much removal from the line of scrimmage that we can. It’s complicated because we have certain plays and certain adjustments we need to make. Offensive line play is definitely the most confusing and the easiest to blame (when things go wrong). It’s truly fun playing as part of a five-person unit.
Q: How come the little guys are always jumping into your arms after touchdowns? Why won’t they let you jump into theirs? Seems unfair!
A: It does seem unfair. Those guys are always getting the fame and glory. I always say that the offensive linemen are the best looking guys on the team. We should get more credit for it but those guys are always taking their helmets off for the cameras.
Q: If you could play for another team at Stanford, which would it be?
A: I want to say fencing. I heard they get to travel oversees quite a bit so that sounds really cool. They are pretty nimble so I choose that. Also I don’t know if Stanford has a ping pong team but I did go to the last Olympics and watched some epic table tennis so I choose that as well.
Q: What are the best parts of being a student athlete at Stanford?
A: You truly get the full combination of experiences here. Not only the best coaching but the best teachers; it’s really rewarding.
Q: Who do you most enjoy lining up against in practices?
A: Personally I don’t enjoy any of it, they are all really good. Playing against those guys, it gets tiring going up against Henry Anderson David Parry, Shayne Skov, A.J. Tarpley and Josh Mauro. I’d have to say Henry Anderson – he gets me better every day.
Q: Choose one of each: The song you are most proud of, and least proud of, on your iPod.
A: I have a buddy who’s written some really good songs so I’d say most proud of that. As far as least proud, I’d say “Call Me Maybe.” It’s kind of embarrassing.
Q: Do you have a nickname and why?
A: People just refer to me by my last name. I can’t recall the last time someone in the program has even called me by my first name. I get a little bit of the Elton John “Tiny Dancer” as well as The Killers – “Are we human or are we dancer?” I wish more people would call me Kevin but I’ll stick to Danser.
Q: How has playing football at Stanford better prepared you for life?
A: I truly feel that football is some of the toughest stuff you’ll ever do. You’ll learn to interact on a team with over 100 individuals; you learn leadership values, commitment values and dedication. You learn just how to fight through adversity; how to ride the good times and the bad times. Stanford football has taught me a lot.
Q: What is your best moment on the football field?
A: Hopefully the day when I score my first touchdown!
Q: Where are your favorite places to eat on or near campus?
A: I love Stern Dining Hall. They have a great burrito ball. I’m a big fan.
Q: If you could be anyone on the team for a day, who would it be and why?
A: I’ve always had an ambition to play a skill position. I can’t go the boring route; I’d have to say tight end; maybe Charlie Hopkins. He seems to be doing well so I’ll go with that one.
Q: Best and worst football movies of all-time? Why?
A: I love The Replacements. I’m a comedy guy so I’d have to say that one. I don’t think I’ve seen a bad football movie. I haven’t had a bad experience with a football movie, I’m sorry.
Q: Of your teammates, who is most likely to 1) become President of the United States, 2) join the front office of a major sports franchise 3) join the circus 4) fall off the face of the earth? Why?
1.) I’m going with an offensive line theme here with my answers. It’s got to be Conor McFadden. He seems to be a big public policy guy. Good motivator as well.
2.) Kevin Reihner. He seems to be a big sport guy.
3.) The first guy that popped into my head was Khalil Wilkes. I have no bad intentions with this answer; I think he is just one of the most comical guys I’ve ever met.
4.) I don’t know why but I’m going to say Kyle Murphy. I don’t know why, in fact I feel like I could probably put my own name in that category.