When they take the field against St Andrews on November 23rd, Presbyterian College football’s running back Zola Davis and offensive lineman Eli Teeselink will have left their mark on the Blue Hose program in a very impactful way.
Teeselink and Davis have both been through the ups and downs throughout their time with the Blue Hose, but the duo has been there through it all these past five years.
HOW DID THEY START
The two started young in the sport, Teeselink became interested in football in kindergarten, before it became a serious interest in the fifth grade. Davis had a similar upbringing in the sport, getting into it during his fourth-grade year when he was able to play tackle football. Both of their fathers were big influences on them, and were always there to help them on and off the field throughout their childhoods.
Davis believes that even though he grew up around his dad playing football at the collegiate and pro levels, for South Carolina before transitioning to the NFL with the Green Bay Packers and the Cleveland Browns, that he would have still played football because it was the “coolest sport” and it allowed him to be outside playing the sport that was in his blood from a young age.
IDOLS IN THE GAME
Teeselink, when asked who his idol was growing up, told of a fellow offensive lineman and 14-year NFL veteran Matt Birk, who spent time with the Minnesota Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens. He was inspired by Birk, because much like himself, he played the center position, a spot that the Waconia, Minnesota, native has held down for the Blue Hose over the last 33 games entering Saturday’s matchup at Monmouth.
Much like Teeselink, Davis looked to positions specific to his game when talking about players he looked up to when he was younger. Davis said that he looked at players he thought he could match his game style with, including the likes of longtime Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders and Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss.
WHAT ATTRACTED THEM TO PC
Both Teeselink and Davis wanted to play Division 1 football. As for committing to PC, they both went about it in similar ways.
Teeselink was drawn to PC because of the small community feel, as it reminded him of his hometown back in Minnesota. He also liked the small class sizes and the coaching staff. Davis jumped at the D1 opportunity, and he was excited to come to Presbyterian to “compete hard on the field”, whilst being able to get a good education at a quality institution.
BATTLING THRU ADVERSITY
Both players had to deal with a lot of adversity, both on and off the field, but these circumstances and experiences have allowed them to grow and develop while at Presbyterian.
Davis, before the 2017 season went down with a season-ending injury following a season which saw him as one of the Blue Hose most versatile players playing as a running back, wide receiver and tight end as he was able to play in all 11 games the prior year. He battled back in 2018 and rushed for 440 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Teeselink has been fortunate to be on the field for much of his time but in 2018 he faced the unfortunate circumstances of losing a dear friend. Before the end of the academic year in 2018, Teeselink learned that a friend from his time at IMG Academy had passed away.
It was hard for Teeselink because he had spent so much time with him and was someone who always had a smile on his face no matter what was and always wanted to improve your day and make you feel better about yourself. Following the funeral, Teeselink vowed that “I was going to live my life and the game in a way that would make him proud.”
Following the 2017 season, both Teeselink and Davis, along with their teammates, got the news that the program would transition to non-scholarship football beginning in 2021. For Davis, this came on the heels of what he called an “emotional roller coaster” of a season following a season-ending injury in 2017. Davis also said that it “hurt the psyche of the team” and it started a very difficult process for both Teeselink and Davis to see a lot of friends they had gone into battle with, on and off the field over the last two years, leave for different opportunities.
Teeselink wanted to stay at Presbyterian through the transition process because he wanted to be loyal to the school that was loyal to him. Both Teeselink and Davis were very thankful for all the coaches who put in a lot of effort into achieving what is best for the Blue Hose throughout the transition process.
FAVORITE GAME MEMORY
Teeselink had three games that stuck out to him during his time at PC, with the first being Miami (OH) as he said even though he didn’t play he realized this is what the experience would be like. The second moment was against Chattanooga during the 2016 season, as that was the first chance he ever got to see the field in a game and he said that was the moment that “I am doing it.” Finally, the last game was when he played South Alabama at the end of that same season, following that game he said: “I can do this and compete with a lot of people.”
When they were asked about their favorite game memory, Davis said that even though he didn’t play his favorite game was against Liberty during his freshman season. As he said the excitement on the field with the fireworks and the crowds cheering was a moment he wouldn’t forget.
WHAT HAVE THEY LEARNED
Teeselink learned that “life can punch you in the mouth, and tests if you can be mentally tough enough to fight back.” He also went onto say that there is more to life than just football and he has tried to teach that to his younger teammates.
Eli added that he has learned how to deal with adversity and “how to pick yourself up when you are down.” Both players want to express to their younger teammates that they need to enjoy the game and continue to play for the right reasons, which is some of what they have learned from seniors that came before them.
Zola shared how he has learned to “pray through the hard times” as he said the main thing he has learned throughout his collegiate experience is “even if you are trying your best but you don’t succeed that it is okay, and you just need to keep going.”