Spain: Badalona Dracs QB Kevin Doyle embracing the adventure

By Kyle Pinnell

It was another one of those perfect January afternoons in Barcelona. 

With the temperature hovering around 11 degrees, it may have felt chilly to those who call the Catalonian capital home, but Kevin Doyle Jr. couldn’t complain, especially as the sun provided a radiating warmth as it reflected off the exterior of La Sagrada Familia Basilica across the street. 

Doyle, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and who has lived in Washington D.C, is used to the frigid temperatures of the Northeast region of the United States, where 0 degree days and occasional snowfall is common. When he sat down to discuss his European football journey and his journey to Badalona, Spain, and the Dracs, he was still trying to soak everything in.

For the next four months, Doyle will be the quarterback of the Dracs where he hopes to lead Badalona to more trophies and championships. His fourth team in Europe and second in the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Americano, Doyle admitted that he has kept an eye on the Dracs since first playing with the Zaragoza Hurricanes and the feeling was mutual. This is how the Dracs landed their latest quarterback and American import.

It wasn’t long ago that Doyle wrapped up his junior year at the University of Arizona where he played college football for the Wildcats, unsure of what was next for him and his football career. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, Doyle started to think about the future; that’s when he recalled conversations with old friends who had parents who played American football in Europe, from Amsterdam to Barcelona. From there, the concept of playing abroad in Europe continued to tug at him.

“If you’re blessed enough to get an opportunity to play again, take it,” Doyle told himself shortly after his collegiate playing career concluded.”

Kevin Doyle Jr. taking a snap in game against L’Hospitalet Pioners @jordidolsdiez

Eventually, Doyle took the leap. He logged onto, a website that allows players to upload their resumé and tape, and put himself out there to coaches all over Europe. Several coaches reached out, but Doyle can’t help but recount the story of the offer he missed because he didn’t check Facebook messages. It came from a team in Ukraine right before the war between Ukraine and Russia broke out, and Doyle said he would have quickly taken the opportunity with his eagerness to play abroad. Looking back on it over a year later, the quarterback can laugh at the time he’s glad he forgot to check Facebook.

The Dracs’ coaching staff also noticed Doyle’s first entry into Europlayers and were intrigued by the American quarterback, but also had their reservations. The only film they had of Doyle was over four years old and came when he played for St. John’s College High School.

“The resources we have in Europe and Spain, especially, are so thin and we cannot risk bringing a guy and him not being the player we think he is,” offensive coordinator Xavi Gonzalo said. “With the quarterback, it’s more important than any other position.”

One Spanish team did take a flier on Doyle? The nearby Zaragoza Hurricanes. A team with an American head coach and other American imports, Doyle’s first season in Spain allowed him to dip his toes into the water of playing American football abroad. 

Still in his early 20’s, Doyle arrived in Spain without knowing much Spanish, so his stint with the Hurricanes provided a trial by fire with both the language and culture. The concept of “siesta time” was foreign at first. On the field, Doyle picked up some tendencies from coaches, too, which he says helped him at all of his stops. 

“If a coach is talking to the team and he’s not speaking English, it’s not for you,” Doyle said. “I realized that when that happens, it doesn’t matter for me, because if he was talking to me specifically or wanted me to know, it would be in English.”

Doyle experienced quick success in Spain. He threw 13 touchdowns in his first two weeks and finished the season with over 2,000 passing yards, winning league MVP in the process. The season at Zaragoza was the best thing that could have happened for both Doyle and the Dracs, allowing the quarterback to experience international American football and Badalona to watch Doyle play entire games and not just highlights.

“When (Doyle) played last year in the Spanish league, we really liked what we saw,” Gonzalo said. “He was one of the first names we thought about when trying to look for our quarterback this year.”

Following his time with Zaragoza, Doyle went to Düsseldorf, Germany, where he played for both the Düsselforf Panther in the German Football League and the European League of Football’s Rhein Fire over separate seasons. When his contract in Germany expired, Doyle couldn’t get the thought of returning to Spain, and potentially playing for Badalona, out of his head.

“The Dracs have a great reputation in Spain for winning and being a great team and organization,” Doyle said. “Seeing how well the organization was run, the personnel with it, the amount of coaches on the sidelines, the presentation. I knew if I came back to Spain I wanted to play with this great organization.”

Kevin Doyle Jr. taking a snap in game against L’Hospitalet Pioners @jordidolsdiez

Doyle was one of several quarterback candidates ahead of the Dracs’ 2023 season, but it was his 45 minute Zoom interview with Gonzalo –– one that went well over schedule –– that helped cement his place. They talked about Doyle’s experience at Zaragoza and adjusting to a new level of play in Spain as well as the quarterback’s preferred scheme and system. Doyle described the stress of taking over offensive play-calling duties with the Hurricanes after the team fired its offensive coordinator two weeks into the season. In just under an hour, Doyle checked all the boxes the Dracs were looking at. 

“We both decided we were a great fit for each other and soon after that we agreed to begin the visa process,” Doyle said.

With 2023 being Gonzalo’s first year as Badalona’s offensive coordinator, the process of adding a quarterback became even more crucial. Both he and Doyle will work closely all season, which meant they needed to establish a quick rapport. 

“For me, it was very important to have a really close relationship with my quarterback,” Gonzalo said. “We’re going to spend a lot of time talking football and trying to come up with the best game plan that we can, so I need to know I can trust the quarterback and that he’s honest.”

Gonzalo said Doyle reminds him of former Dracs’ American quarterback, Hunter Correll, who arrived in Badalona after playing collegiately at Northern Arizona. It’s a comparison that the offensive coordinator doesn’t make lightly.

“Hunter set the standard for being a great leader,” Gonzalo said. “Not only a great football player, but a great guy that everybody loved playing with. That was the idea with Kevin, that he’s a great player but on top of that he makes everyone better around him.”

On the field, Doyle provides the Dracs with a quarterback who can make plays with both his arms and legs. He’ll stand in the pocket and make difficult throws or use his legs to escape the pocket and make a play.

“If he doesn’t see anyone open (Doyle) can make plays with his legs, which gives us confidence as a coaching staff,” Gonzalo said. “He can bail us out if we call a bad play. That’s what you look for, players who can make you look better than you are.”

Off the field, Doyle is finally adjusting to life in Catalunya after first arriving on January 3. He’ll wake up around 9 a.m. before going to work out at the gym. He also works with the future of American football in Spain, the kids. On Tuesday and Thursdays, Doyle trains a group of six to seven kids for a couple of hours while on Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s, he trains the club’s junior teams before putting on his own helmet and taking the field for practice.

With the Dracs scheduled to play their second home game of the season, against the Valencia Firebats at 1800 on Feb. 11, Doyle is eager to continue his season-long pursuit of once again surpassing 2,000 passing yards like he did during his time at Zaragoza. 

Bigger picture, his focus is 100% with the Dracs where the goals and expectations are always higher than elsewhere in Spain. 

“I want to bring a championship back to Badalona,” Doyle said. “We have all the pieces, so I don’t see why we can’t take care of our division and whoever comes in front of us.”

American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!