LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — When David Porter was little — OK, well, he was never really all that little — he had a peculiar habit.
He always tattled on himself.
When Porter did something wrong, he came up to his mother, Kecia, and told her, “I need a spanking.”
“What child does that?” Kecia Porter said with a laugh during an interview this week. “He’s just super honest. A sweet child. He would give you the shirt off his back. And he’s still the same way.”
That humbleness also revealed itself in another form: David Porter is only now beginning to realize his talent on the gridiron is not normal, but special.
Porter is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds and a 3-star recruit in 247Sports’ composite rankings. He signed with Arkansas after a standout career as a defensive lineman at Little Rock’s Joe T. Robinson High School. As a senior in 2016, Porter had 105 tackles — 24 for loss — and 10 sacks. His junior season was almost as impressive with 84 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 8 sacks.
But to Porter, that was all no big deal.
Koilan Jackson — Porter’s teammate at Robinson and future teammate at Arkansas — found a particularly creative way to describe him.
“It’s like you have a little dog that was a puppy and grows really fast,” Jackson said, “but he still tries to do the things that he did when he was a puppy, like jump on you.
“That’s how he is. That’s exactly how he is. Now he’s learning that he’s bigger than most people.”
Birth certificate, please
In hindsight, it probably shouldn’t have come as such a surprise.
When David was a 5-year-old in Little Rock, he played football with 8- and 9-year-olds — and was still bigger than a lot of them. When his mom tried to sign him up at one point, football officials demanded a birth certificate.
Truth be told, basketball was David’s first love, but he learned to love football. Maybe that’s because it came relatively easy to him — even if he didn’t realize it at the time.
Or for a good while after that.
“When he got his first offer, he told me that he never thought that would happen to him,” Kecia Porter said. “I was amazed. I said, ‘You’ve been winning championships since you were in the fifth grade. Why would you not think that you had the ability to play on the next level?’ ”
That’s just the way David is wired.
“I wouldn’t know my voice is deep unless somebody told me,” he said with a laugh. “I wouldn’t know I was tall unless somebody told me.”
Joe T. Robinson High assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Brian Maupin grinned when asked about Porter’s humility.
Maupin spent last spring and summer driving Porter around the country to prospect camps. Despite all that time in the car together, Maupin still marvels at the way Porter views himself.
“For a guy who is so physically gifted and so imposing — dominating every Friday night — you would think he’s a practice squad hype boy on the sideline by the way he carries himself,” Maupin said.
‘That’s where I’m comfortable’
David really wanted to stay in-state and play college football at Arkansas. But a couple weeks before National Signing Day, that didn’t look like it would happen.
He didn’t have an offer from the Razorbacks — despite several other impressive offers — and decided to lock down a scholarship and commit to Colorado State on Jan. 24.
A few days after that, things changed in Fayetteville. Troy James — Arkansas’ only 2017 defensive line commit — flipped his commitment to Oklahoma. The Hogs invited Porter to take an official visit, offered him a scholarship and gained his commitment before he left campus.
Porter could play defensive end or outside linebacker in the Razorbacks’ new 3-4 scheme.
Quite the turnaround for a guy who needed to see himself on television before having even the slightest inkling that he might have a special talent for football.
“When I started seeing it on the news and stuff, I was like, ‘Well, I guess I am good,’ ” David said.
“I do like knowing my strength now, but I still feel like I need to be that guy that stays grounded. That’s how I feel like I need to be and that’s where I’m comfortable.”
‘Driven to achieve’
The people who know David best believe Arkansas is truly getting a steal.
“Right now, he is really reaching the pinnacle of his focus,” Maupin said. “He is driven to achieve. When he gets on campus with that strength and conditioning program, and that nutrition program, and that academic program, the sky’s the limit for that kid.
“David Porter is gonna soak up every ounce Arkansas has to give him and then he’s gonna give back every ounce he has to Arkansas.”
To his mother, David is still the little boy who keeps nothing from her. And she means that semi-literally — Kecia Porter is surprised by some of the minor things that her teenage son still confesses to her.
“If somebody ever came to me and said that my son robbed a bank,” she said, “I would say, ‘No. No. Not my child.’ ”
Arkansas beat writer Jason Kersey is traveling around the country visiting the Razorbacks’ 2017 signees for SEC Country’s “NextGen” series. Read his past 2017 NextGen stories at this link.