Mike Davis is leading the SEC in rushing despite not receiving the preseason accolades of his peers.
Mike Davis: Breaking the Mold
Davis was well aware of the troubles of the previous two highly touted running backs, Derek Watson and Demetris Summers, and intended not to follow suit. "I'm sure not going to go that route," he said. "I don't have friends that influence me to do things I shouldn't do."
Now three years later, the bruising senior has proven what he said in the beginning. He has, in a sense, ‘broken the mold.'
In a recent interview, Davis described his experience at USC thus far.
"It's been great; I wouldn't trade (it) for the world. I love Columbia, I love South Carolina, I love growing up here (and I) love Gamecock football. That's why I'm here."
Early in his career, Davis was mostly quiet and appeared unsure of himself at times. But late in the 2006 season, he came on strong. That success carried over into the first half of the 2007 campaign, but began to diminish as the year wore on. As a result, he has yet to have a complete season, but it appears this may be the year. He had a strong offseason and looks more explosive than ever. After the second fall practice, Steve Spurrier remarked to the media that Davis is quicker than ever.
As he prepares for his last season in the Garnet and Black, Davis comes in with a respectable résumé thus far. Despite being somewhat overshadowed by the multi-talented Cory Boyd for most of his tenure, the 5'9" 214 pound Davis has still put together some respectable statistics. In his three seasons at Carolina, Davis has accumulated 1,658 rushing yards and 454 yards receiving, resulting in 17 touchdowns. With an improved offensive line and more carries, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he could rush for over a thousand yards. He will need an impressive season if he hopes to make it to the next level.
Davis is not entirely safe as a starter, however, as he will be pushed by 5'10" 220 pound sophomore Brian Maddox. Maddox, a former T.L. Hanna high school standout, is the fourth blue chip running back from the Palmetto State to become a Gamecock since 1999. Maddox accounted for only 14 yards on six carries as a true freshman last season, but has had a strong offseason and looks prepared to have a breakout year. His power running and pass catching ability reminds some of departed tailback Cory Boyd.
The two, Davis and Maddox, will be tested early on when they face North Carolina State on August 28th. The Wolfpack return four starters on a defense that only caused 16 turnovers last season. Thus, the defense will rely heavily on the line to help a trio of young linebackers. If State does not step up to the challenge, Davis and Maddox could both have a big night.
The question remains in the minds of all Gamecock fans: Can Davis take charge of a ground game that ranked last in the SEC a season ago and bring it to the next level? This is what he had to say on the topic.
"I'm ready to take on that role, and I think (everyone) in my backfield is ready to take on that role… we're going to go out and perform."
Davis has one final question to overcome, after suffering a shoulder injury early in fall practice, but he is expected to be ready for the season opener against NCSU.
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