College football can play out as a strange, unpredictable, and oddly poetic process. Few players’ careers in College Station have embodied that notion more than former Texas A&M wideout Kemah Siverand.
After a high profile recruitment, a position change, and a nearly impossible grad-transfer during the most tumultuous three-year span in program history, Siverand sat down with Colton Chumbley prior to the NFL draft to reflect on his… eventful collegiate career.
As an Aggie Alum and just now recently after tonight a former Poke, this game meant a lot to me and as a man you have to know how to take losses in order to enjoy the wins that much more. I wouldn’t have wanted to be on any other team than this one! #ForeverACowboy pic.twitter.com/A33J1KjbtZ— Kemah Siverand (@TheKSiverand) December 28, 2019
The following has been edited for length and clarity:
CC: Coming out of high school I know you had a lot of buzz surrounding you and were pretty highly ranked. With so many schools rolling out the red carpet for you, what was that recruitment process like?
KS: I had a lot of the top programs in the country calling me so it got pretty crazy. Lots of letters, phone calls, it was surreal. I remember I had a loaded class my year with guys like Kyler Murray, Christian Kirk, and Derwin James, but I really feel like I was right there talent wise with a lot of those guys.
Where I struggled with it was I didn’t know how everything worked right away. I had a lot of coaches coming in telling me conflicting things and I’m only 17 years old at the time. I was always raised to be respectful and sometimes it’s easy to get caught up because these coaches are so good at their jobs; which is mostly recruiting when it all comes down to it.
CC: Out of all of the schools that recruited you, why did you choose Texas A&M?
KS: There was a lot that went into it — things just fell into place. My main schools were A&M, Texas, and Ohio State. I actually loved Texas growing up, but the day I was there I found out that Mack Brown was stepping down. I remember there were some big time recruits out there that day like Jamal Adams and Otaro Alaka. When we all found out everybody was saying they were going elsewhere and I followed suit.
Then, Ohio State had a lot of internal stuff going on that ended up coming out later, so it narrowed things down for me.
At the time A&M was still hot after Johnny and Mike Evans. Coach Sumlin and Coach Beatty did a really good job of selling that vision to me. Kyler was coming in and the thought at the time was we could recreate that same magic, like Johnny 2.0.
CC: After you committed, you took part in some of the craziest seasons the program has ever seen. First you red shirt in 2015 when Kyler and Kyle Allen both transferred out. Then in ‘16 there was that collapse in November. What were those first couple of seasons like for you?
KS: At the time I thought things were handled in house pretty well, but what happens then is that causes people to start speculating and make up their own story of what is really going on. It was just a tough spot because you had Kyler who was a great quarterback and had a lot of expectations coming in, but you can’t just give him the job when Kyle had already proved himself.
I just don’t know if it was handled the right way because of how they were put in and out of the lineup. I think guys that are that young can second guess themselves when they get pulled out after a bad game and then their confidence goes down. It was a tough situation for them.
CC: I’ve talked to some guys who were on that team who said there was just a lack of accountability during those years. For example, there’d be some guys who would miss meetings or things like that and nothing would happen, whereas some guys who missed would be running bleachers or get put on the stair master. Did you ever see any of that?
KS: I kind of feel like that’s how college football is now across the board. I’ve been at two schools now and seen some of the same things. I don’t ever pay too much attention to that personally. Wherever you’re at there’s always going to be different scales for guys, but the top programs are the ones who find a way to balance it out.
And even then... the light still shines. pic.twitter.com/uQ6z2vMtND— Kemah Siverand (@TheKSiverand) October 16, 2017
CC: You were still playing receiver at that point. What was it like competing for playing time with so many future NFL guys on the roster, and when was it that you made the switch over to DB?
KS: It was tough sometimes, man. I was working with guys like Kirk, Speedy Noil, and then Josh Reynolds was still there and he had just broken the record for most touchdowns in a season, but I never let that intimidate me.
What was a struggle was when we had all of the coaching changes. Coach Beatty took the head job at Kansas, then Coach Mazzone came in as OC, so I had to re-prove myself. It was a tough situation, but I never make excuses. I played hard in practice and that had guys sticking up for me. I even remember Trevor Knight telling the media at one point that I was going to be ‘the guy’ there one day.
The switch to defense was spontaneous. I’ll be honest it caught me off guard. I got called into Coach Moorehead’s office after 2016 and he asked me about playing corner. It was a shot to my heart.
Even now I still feel like I’m capable of making plays as a receiver, but I talked to Brandon Williams about it and saw all of the success he had after making the switch so that helped a lot. At that point I just put it in God’s hands and trusted my ability as an athlete and as a competitor.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear - J.C pic.twitter.com/cvaXFRO3a8— Kemah Siverand (@TheKSiverand) January 1, 2019
CC: What was the transition to the other side of the ball like and when did you know that transferring was going to be the best route for you?
KS: I really got thrown into the fire right away. I was playing safety and corner so a lot was thrown at me by the coaches. That ‘17 season everybody really stayed in their own lane. Each position coach was kind of doing their own thing and experimenting where they threw in guys during games.
After Coach Sumlin got fired I knew the new staff really wanted me to play safety behind Donovan Wilson, but I felt like my future was at corner. At the end of the day my dream was the NFL and that’s when I decided it was time to make a change.
I decided that I was going to try and grad-transfer, so I ended up taking like 25 hours in the summer. I swear man I was in a different professor’s office like every other day. I didn’t have any hours to fool around with, but I did it and ended up graduating in three years.
CC: After that, obviously you ultimately signed with Oklahoma State. What was it like playing for Coach Gundy?
KS: He’s a cool coach. He can definitely relate to his players. We never had any issues, I mean, they put me in leadership positions even though I was only there for a short amount of time. They named me a team captain three or four times last year which was a pretty big deal to me. He’s just really organized and a hard worker.
CC: Obviously we can’t end this without talking about the ridiculous irony of you ending your career in the Texas Bowl against A&M last season. What was that like?
KS: I tried to not let it get too big for me, but you couldn’t have scripted it any better. During warm ups I was able to catch up with everybody and as soon as the game was over me and Kendrick Rogers got a picture together. Things didn’t happen like I would have wanted in the game, but it is what it is. I’m just grateful.