Donovan delivers in more than one way

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






2009-10 Royal Purple Male Athlete of the Year: Jeff Donovan

Jeff Donovan’s year has been a non-stop process.

It’s been practice-after-practice, game-after-game.

It’s also been win-after-win and one championship after another.

After putting on a dominating display during the football season, he’s now doing the exact same thing for the baseball team.

“It really can’t get much better athletically-wise,” Donovan said. “It’s just kind of a dream come true. I planned on playing both and this was the best case scenario with how the year has turned out.”

And it has turned out quite well for the two-sport athlete.

He earned WIAC player of the year honors while leading the football team to its fifth straight conference title and its second national championship in three years.

Less than five months later, Donovan is at the helm of the baseball team’s WIAC championship and its own run to a national championship.

For his efforts in both sports, the former Wauwatosa East High School star has been named the 2009-10 Royal Purple Male Athlete of the Year.

Modest Champion

While he led the conference in nearly every passing category as the quarterback and is the league leader in many hitting categories, Donovan hesitated to accept the award.

“There are other people more successful than I am and do things right all day and everyday,” he said. “I just feel like there are a lot more worthy individuals out there who have worked just as hard as I have, maybe who haven’t got the credit I’ve gotten.”

Donovan takes that humble attitude into everything he does.

“I’m not really satisfied with anything I’ve done yet,” Donovan said. “I don’t know how that comes off, but I feel like I’m capable of a lot more than what I’ve done. Therefore, I feel I’ve underachieved to this point. So until I don’t feel that anymore, I’ll always feel like there’s a lot more I can achieve.”

Flawless Fall

Nonetheless, Donovan’s list of achievements this year is quite long.

In his second year as the starting quarterback, he kicked off the year passing for 349 yards on two touchdowns in the football team’s season opener. His hot start continued when he tossed five touchdowns a week later, tying a school record.

But it wasn’t just a hot start. This is what happened week-after-week.

Donovan didn’t throw his first interception until the sixth game and his confidence was seen in his league-leading 71.9 completion percentage.

He also went from a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 15:11 in Year 1 as a starter to 29:6 in 2009.

“I think preparation was the key,” former offensive coordinator Jim Zebrowksi said. “He’s become more of a student of the game. He sees things so fast that other kids can’t see.”

This showed in the postseason when he led the Warhawks in a come-from-behind effort in the national semifinals. More importantly, he showed poise on the grandest stage.

Donovan went 9-of-9 on third down conversions in the first half of the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, threw for more than 300 yards and captured his first title as the starting quarterback – he wasn’t even in Salem, Va., when the ’Hawks won their first championship because he had his appendix taken out at the same time.

“For me, the most satisfying part was just doing it for this university, because in a lot of ways I’ve given this university a lot of headaches,” Donovan said.

Roaring Comeback

Donovan, however, didn’t have a lot of time to celebrate.

About a week after the Stagg Bowl, Donovan set aside his football equipment for some new gear.

It was time to get back to baseball.

Donovan had been gone from a sport he has played since he was 4 years old for more than a year because of academic issues.

But when the season started, Donovan didn’t miss a beat.

In the first three games at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Donovan went 7 for 12 and drove in eight RBI.

“Sitting out a year was difficult and I was definitely struggling early [in preseason] but it was only a matter of time for me,” Donovan said. “I got off to a really good start and that gave me some confidence.”

His power has been on display all season, leading the team and the conference with 12 home runs and 58 RBI. His .369 batting average is also among the league’s best.

Donovan, however, has added more to his arsenal in 2010.

He is 3-0 as a starting pitcher and his 3.74 ERA is among the top 10 in the WIAC.

In addition to the stats, head coach John Vodenlich has seen a change in Donovan.

“He’s taken on more of a leadership role both on and off the field,” Vodenlich said. “But he knew nothing was going to be handed to him. He has earned his opportunity again.”

While he’s made major strides, Vodenlich said Donovan can do much more.

“Physically he can improve, so I think as far as reaching potential, absolutely not. He’s only scratched the surface.”

Donovan, who has one more year of eligibility left for baseball, said his legacy is not yet complete.

“On paper I’ve done a lot,” Donovan said. “But in my mind, in my heart, I think I have a lot more to offer.”