The numbers Mike Davis put up as a junior at Stephenson High School aren’t necessarily eye-popping — about 1,200 yards rushing, 14 TDs, one on a kickoff return. Not, that is, until placed into context.
Davis produced those numbers not as the primary ball-carrier for the Jaguars, but as a backup to senior starter Willie Davis. The other Davis (no relation) rushed for 1,100 yards and is now a South Florida signee. Looking a little closer, you start to understand why Mike Davis has received a new scholarship opportunity approximately every other day for the last month
“These last few weeks have been really exciting for me,” said Davis, who had no scholarship offers at the turn of the New Year but has 15 as of today. “They really have. I’m starting to see that all my hard work is going to pay off. I’m starting to hear that coaches are interested in me. They’re watching my highlight film; they like what they see; they think I’ll fit in their system.”
Davis’s very first offer came from South Carolina the week of the Georgia Junior Bowl, which was played the second weekend in January. The latest came from Louisville on Tuesday. The last two weeks came a steady stream of offers from Clemson, Florida, FSU, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Memphis, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Penn State, UCF, USF and Vanderbilt.
Suddenly Davis finds himself awash in opportunity.
“Every morning I come to school I get a text from my coach telling me that this school has offered me or that one has offered me,” he said. “And I just get excited every time.”
There are reasons for the sudden interest. Davis has good size (5-foot-11, 185 pounds), decent speed (4.5 seconds) and an impressive highlight video that’s just beginning to make its rounds on the Internet.
He also has a very familiar football name.
Davis is the younger brother of former Clemson star and current NFL player James Davis. The elder Davis (5-11, 218) starred at Douglass High, was a four-star recruit and left Clemson as the Tigers’ fourth-leading yardage gainer of all-time. Now 25, James Davis is currently a member of the Washington Redskins.
Interestingly, Mike hasn’t found his brother to be a great resource for dealing with the sudden recruiting attention. The youngest of five siblings and”the baby”in the Davis clan, Mike is seven years younger than his famous older brother.
“I remember some things [about James' recruitment] but not a lot,” Mike said. “I wasn’t around really. I was playing football, too. But I do remember coaches coming over and being in the living room talking to him and my mom. I remember I thought he was going to Tennessee. I thought he committed to Tennessee, and then the next thing I heard it was Alabama and then it was Clemson. I was like, ‘oh my God, Clemson? Really?’”
At the same time James was making a name for himself at Clemson, Mike was a middle-school terror on defense. It was only after the family’s frequent trips up I-85 to Clemson’s Death Valley that Mike started admiring what his big brother was doing in games. It occurred to him maybe he should consider carrying the football.
“I started seeing his abilities as a running back and helping his team win,” Mike said. “So I was like, ‘give me a shot at running back.’ Ever since then I’ve been playing the position.”
But Mike has had to bide his time at Stephenson. A notoriously talent-laden football program, Davis had to sit behind Raymond Sanders, now at Kentucky, as a sophomore and Willie Davis as a junior.
Frustrating at the time, Mike is able to see the benefits of that now.
“Being behind Raymond Sanders and Willie was great,” Mike said. “I’ve learned a lot from both of them. Raymond is a great person to be around. He’s a great kid. When I was young I’d be like, ‘why am I not getting very much playing time?’ And he’d tell me, ‘you’re just in the 10th grade; be patient and you’re time is going to come. And when your time comes, make the best of it.’ He used to always tell me that.
“Willie and me, we’re great buddies. Both of us have the last name Davis so everybody thinks we’re brothers. People ask me every day, ‘how’s your brother?’ I’ll be, like, ‘James?’ They say, ‘no, Willie.’ But we are like brothers.”
Suddenly Mike finds himself alone in the limelight, and it’s a little unsettling at times. Now he’s the man everybody wants, not somebody’s little brother or backup.
And the sudden myriad of choices is a bit overwhelming. At one point he envisioned himself fielding as many offers as possible and contemplating his future as a high school senior. Now he finds himself with several dream offers sitting right in his lap with months remaining in his junior year.
“I wanted to sit back and see how many offers I could get at first, but now I don’t know,” Davis said. “Now you might even see a commitment on my birthday”
Davis’ 18th birthday is Feb. 19th, which is this Saturday. As it turns out, Davis and his teammates will be on a trip to Florida this weekend to visit the Gators’ football complex.
A tell-tale sign?
“It might be; you never know,” Davis teased. “We’re supposed to go to Tennessee the next weekend, so you’ll just have to wait and see.”
One thing’s for sure: For Mike Davis, the wait is over. His time is now.
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog.