Q&A: Former Bulldog Thomas Davis returns to graduate, comments on defense

Q&A WITH THOMAS DAVIS

Yes, Thomas Davis knows a thing or two about tackling. Ask Charlie Whitehurst. (AJC photo)

Yes, Thomas Davis knows a thing or two about tackling. Ask Charlie Whitehurst. (AJC photo)

Just got off a teleconference call with former Georgia football star Thomas Davis. An All-American safety for the Bulldogs (2002-04), Davis now plays linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, who just last week signed him to a five-year contract extension. Thanks to the NFL lockout, Davis recently completed coursework for his UGA degree in housing and consumer economics. He’s getting a pass out of training camp this weekend in order to return to Athens and walk in graduation ceremonies on Saturday. Following is the what Davis had to say to reporters on the eve of that special occasion.

Q: How did you go about finishing your degree requirements from a logistics standpoint?

A: “The good thing for me is I was a redshirt guy. I left school after being in school for 3 ½ years and I didn’t have a lot of work left to complete in order to reach my degree requirements. Actually I had three classes I had to complete. With the lockout being in place I was able to take advantage of that. I was coming off a knee injury, so that allowed me time to heal my injury as well as go back and finish classes online. I was able to take those classes online. So it all worked out and I’ll be back there this weekend.”

Q: So you really wanted to attend the graduation ceremonies?

A: “Without a doubt. I think it defeats the purpose of actually going back and doing it if you don’t take advantage of the opportunity to go back and be a part of the students that have gone through the same thing and are actually graduating.”

Q: Did you find online courses easier or harder than actually attending classes?

A: “It was just hard the fact that I’ve been out of school for six years to get back in the swing of actually doing classwork. But I think the thing that helped me out was the fact we have to do so much studying for the game of football. We do a lot of work throughout the week. By me continuing to do that stuff on this level allowed me to make the transition a little bit easier. If I wasn’t playing football then trying to get back into it would have been really tough.”

Q: How do you feel about the new collective bargaining agreement the players and NFL were able to negotiate?

A: “We’re definitely excited about it, the players and the owners. We believe it’s an agreement that’s going to be beneficial for both sides. We’re just looking forward to see how things shake out in the years to come. But for us, we still actually can’t participate, guys who signed extensions or new deals or free agents. We actually can’t participate until Thursday, so it’s still kind of frustrating for a lot of us. But we understand that there are still technicalities. With it being a new CBA there are stil some things that need to get worked out. But we’re looking forward to getting back on the field.”

Q: How are you feeling with regard to your second ACL reconstruction?

A: “I’m feeling great. Ready to go.”

Q: Will there be many of the Davis family in attendance on Saturday?

A: “I have a whole lot of my family coming up. Everybody’s excited. I’m the first one in my immediate family to actually graduate from college. So it’s a huge honor, not only for me but for my Mom. It’s something that my grandmother, before she passed, she wanted me to get done. I just wished that she’d been here to be able to see me do it. Unfortunately she’s not. She’s now with God and I know she’s somewhere smiling down on me.”

Q: You were a part of the Georgia’s most successful run in 20-something year when you were here. The Bulldogs are coming off a 6-7 season and only won eight games the year before that. What are your impressions?

A: “I think we just have to get back to playing Georgia football. We have to be more physical and more aggressive in our approach and I think that will make all the difference. I think we have great talent at Georgia. We’ve just got to go out there and show everybody what we’re capable of doing. I don’t think the guys have been doing that week in and week out. I know Coach Richt is a great coach and he’s going to light a fire under those guys. I definitely expect some big things out of Georgia this year.”

Q: You talked to the team before the Vanderbilt game last year. What was your message?

A: “Basically, I told them we have never been considered a team that was soft and didn’t go out make people feel like they just left a fight when they left the game. I don’t feel like our defense in particular really made teams feel threatened to come in and play us. When we played defense, we had guys like Greg Blue and Odell Thurman and David Pollack, guys who would really come up and lay their number on you. You would feel it even after the game was over. Even when they went into the next week those guys still had on their mind that hit you laid on them. I don’t think we had anybody on that defense that was doing that, that was presenting that intimidation factor. I told those guys how I felt about it.

“In the NFL, we have a lot of guys from all over and we have a bunch of South Carolina guys on our team. For a guy to come up to me and say, ‘what happened to Georgia? You guys are soft,” you know, for me, that did something to me.”

Q: So do you see them turning it around this year?

A: “I definitely think that we have potential around the board. I know the guys had to make a transition and it’s tough to make a transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. I do understand that. That’s been my thing, sitting back and watching not only as a former player but as a fan of the sport of college football. I’m just looking for this team going out and showing everybody what we’re capable of doing and doing it.”

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a YouTube video reminder of how Davis played ball at UGA . . .

78 comments Add your comment

UGA Insider

August 2nd, 2011
4:22 pm

A great follow-up to the softness remark would have been “Do you attribute that to the loss of BVG?”

Tobias Funke

August 2nd, 2011
4:22 pm

HACE is the Place! Go Dawgs!

[...] Former UGA star Thomas Davis returns to graduate, shares observations [...]

merbertmoover

August 2nd, 2011
4:26 pm

thomas davis = tha truuuth

merbertmoover

August 2nd, 2011
4:28 pm

man, that’s cool our man thomas davis graduate! he was one of the best for real….and smart as a licorice whip, mmmhmmmm….i wish he sign with the falcons though, cuz i wanna do that dirty bird all nite, you know what im sayin?

BVG is Richts Daddy

August 2nd, 2011
4:29 pm

Haven’t done too much since the days of BVG.
buh bye Rickety Richt

Born2Bark

August 2nd, 2011
4:30 pm

Congrats on going back and finishing your degree TD! The fact you’re financially set for life and still went back to accomplish that goal shows the character you have. Another Damn Good Dawg!

Tobias Funke

August 2nd, 2011
4:30 pm

Soft Willie is the cause for the decline.

frannie mae

August 2nd, 2011
4:32 pm

“what happened to Georgia? You guys are soft,” That says it all…. UGA is in BIG BIG trouble.

Choke Sign Artist Todd

August 2nd, 2011
4:35 pm

“it’s tough to make a transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. I do understand that.” The jury is still out on the D.

headley lamar

August 2nd, 2011
4:35 pm

Haven’t done too much since the days of BVG.
buh bye Rickety Richt

How did BVG defense hold up against Rodgers last year?

Defense has pretty much sucked and killed the Falcons since he has been there,

headley lamar

August 2nd, 2011
4:37 pm

UGA is in BIG BIG trouble.

Ill tell you who is in BIG BIG trouble. The opposition.

Everyone is kicking UGA during our little two year down cycle.

Do you really think UGA will stay down?

If you do your a fool.

girldawg

August 2nd, 2011
4:37 pm

Congratulations to Thomas Davis for coming back to school for his degree and diploma. He is one good dawg!!!

Frank Lane

August 2nd, 2011
4:39 pm

We have one big season to get it back together. I like the off-season behavior, conditioning and attitude. I am hopeful.

Tobias Funke

August 2nd, 2011
4:41 pm

You hate because you are scared. Win with Richt! Go Dawgs!

Chip

Can we get a report on Jenkins? or Ogletree? or Glenn?

JYD

August 2nd, 2011
4:43 pm

Cant stop this

August 2nd, 2011
4:44 pm

Big Dirty Dawg

August 2nd, 2011
4:45 pm

I second Lamar’s comment!! Can never keep a good dawg down for long!!!

Worm

August 2nd, 2011
4:48 pm

Congrats to Thomas..He is a great representative for UGA and is VERY active in the Charlotte community..As was John Kasey..

Music, Meet My Ears « Year of the Dawg

August 2nd, 2011
4:49 pm

[...] yes. I’m already in a good mood and it just got better: “Even going into your next week, you still had that hit on your mind that those guys did to [...]

ormewood

August 2nd, 2011
4:49 pm

Love stories like this. Big-time kudos to Thomas Davis for coming back and getting his degree.

Zoli

August 2nd, 2011
4:51 pm

Our D is going to lay some wood and be vastly improved! We have the personnel in place, condidtioning, size and speed, and a proven coach to LAY SOME WOOD on our opponents! Mark it down we will be atop of most D categories this year!

Billdawg

August 2nd, 2011
4:52 pm

Ditto on the congrats to Thomas. One tough dawg!

Vance Duly

August 2nd, 2011
4:52 pm

I agree with UGA Insider — digging into that “softness” issue with some “why” and “how” questions would have made for some interesting follow-up, to determine the reasons for this perception. Who would be better to comment about it than a player like Thomas Davis, who enjoyed crackin’ heads!!?

Palm City Dawg

August 2nd, 2011
4:53 pm

Now that’s the leadership we need in the locker room and on the field.

RabidDawgFan

August 2nd, 2011
5:02 pm

That’s the junkyard defense that I’m used to. Back in the Greg Blue, Thomas Davis, Odell Thurman, David Pollack, Quentin Moses, Gerald Anderson, Kendric Golston days. Those were the good ol defense days. Looking forward to seeing more of those in the very near future.

ugaclassof2004

August 2nd, 2011
5:23 pm

Davis’ teammates are right, UGA has gotten soft. Who deserves the blame? Mark Richt. He’s the head coach, its his team. He sat back and did nothing when Willie ran the defense into the ground. Willie should have been fired after 2008, but Richt kept him another year when it was clear to anyone with a brain that the defense had quit playing for him. And instead of firing ONE coach, he ended up having to fire THREE! Then he fired Van Halanger last year, the guy who implemented the whole ” Mat Drill” concept that was a part of the ” Georgia Way” back in the day. What’s going to happen next? Fire Rodney Garner if the “Dream Team” doesn’t pan out? At what point is the head guy held responsible?

LowCountry XPlant

August 2nd, 2011
5:24 pm

Yeah, that Dog would hunt…

Mitch Cumstein

August 2nd, 2011
5:31 pm

The Dawg “D” will be nasty this year. Grantham doesn’t put up with any monkey business of dancing like a Kansas City Fa**ot, (Right Heady?) when a play is made. That was one thing Davis, Blue & the other head hunters we had didn’t do was show-boat.

Mitch Cumstein

August 2nd, 2011
5:31 pm

Big Joe_ pot meet Kettle!

no dog

August 2nd, 2011
5:47 pm

on-line at U of Pheonix? Or UGa?

RabidDawgFan

August 2nd, 2011
5:56 pm

I hope CMR let’s Grantham coach the way he wants to coach and by that I mean get in the players’ faces and chew them out when he’s not pleased with their performance. In the first game last season I loved watching the fire come from Grantham after Rambo let that guy from Lafayette get behind him for their lone score. After that though, we never saw him that intense. That needs to change this season if our defense is to have that same mentality and attitude.

BirdDog

August 2nd, 2011
6:09 pm

That’s the truth Truth!

JE

August 2nd, 2011
6:26 pm

BVG killed the GA Southern program and turned up his nose at what Erk built. He will eventually destroy the Falcon defense which was not evident at all vs the Packers last year. You have to admit the guy had a ton of talent when he was at UGA. Willie never had those kind of players nor has Grantham had any yet. BVG showed up changed a defense and had the talent the first year. Willie and Grantam either had less talent or were changing the defense with lesser talent. If you have the horses you can ride….If not you usually fall of the horse. BVG does not have the horses with the Falcons in the NFL as other Defensive NFL Coaches have. He may know football but does not know how to get extra out of the average player.

Duluth Dawg

August 2nd, 2011
6:34 pm

We have NEVER had a hitter like Thomas Davis. I remember in the Georgia Southern game when he literally knocked a receiver out of his shoes. Davis hit Charlie Whitehurst so hard in the Clemson game that I thought he was dead. Davis is the best “lock and load” safety I have ever seen. The only safety that I have seen who comes close to Davis’ hitting ability is Eric Berry. Berry has far better cover skills and is a better all round safety as a result.

I yearn for the days of Thomas Davis at safety.

Poopdawg

August 2nd, 2011
6:46 pm

I agree Duluthdawg, congratulations Thomas.

JDawg1785

August 2nd, 2011
7:03 pm

Congrats on getting your degree, Thomas! DGD! One of the best safeties we’ve ever had at Georgia.

dawggirl

August 2nd, 2011
7:09 pm

Congratulations to Thomas Davis on this wonderful achievement, it says a lot that he was determined to see this goal be accomplished.

I loved the days of his defense with Greg Blue.

collegeballfan

August 2nd, 2011
7:22 pm

Wonderful story.

Congrats to Davis for his degree.

If his career is gone after this year he has something to fall back on.

tom

August 2nd, 2011
7:30 pm

Thomas Davis was one of the most dominating safeties I have ever seen play. He was a terror on special teams too. Congrats

St. Clarkston

August 2nd, 2011
7:59 pm

Just an offense wrecking machine. As for the degree, he didn’t need but went out and got. Darn good Dawg.

Brucerugby79

August 2nd, 2011
8:49 pm

congratulations Mr Davis

Tech Guy

August 2nd, 2011
9:24 pm

Congratulations, Mr. Davis. Wish more college athletes would follow your example.

william

August 2nd, 2011
9:33 pm

I miss watching Davis, Blue, and Pollack. The Defense has the players, but just not the heart. Hopefully we have changed that this year.

RedandBlackDAWG

August 2nd, 2011
9:46 pm

Big Joe,

Here is a free spell checker you can use. It works pretty good but has a few problems with windows 7, 64 bit. It would have made good sense to use it.

Thank You

http://www.humanized.com/enso/

BG

August 2nd, 2011
10:04 pm

Congrats Thomas!! GO DAWGS!!

Paul in RDU

August 2nd, 2011
10:43 pm

Congratulations to Thomas Davis on the committment to finish his degree and graduate. This is the right way to “finish the drill”.

Gdawg

August 2nd, 2011
10:43 pm

Thomas Davis and Greg Blue hit people so hard people had to get psychological counseling! Those guys were my favorite DB’s off all time. Now, UGA has some ILB and OLB prospects that could rival these guys if they pin their ears back and fly to the ball. 2011 is going to be fun if these guys BRING IT on every down. If not…it could be a long fall, again. I don’t think Richt will put up with it this year. Booboo is a relative of a big-time donor through marriage and that has been the achille’s heal. No More!!! GATA Dawgs!! I back Richt all the way. For all of you who think because he’s a Christian he is weak…that makes him stronger than you! He doesn’t have to be punk like Meyers or Saban and play dirty. Go DAWGS!!

Gdawg

August 2nd, 2011
11:08 pm

Fannie Mae, Wow! Stay away from big-boy sports like SEC football. UGA will take care of business this year. Every morning they wake up and run to Sanford stadium and back to the Athletic building. They will have plenty of gas left for the 4th quarter this year. Since you don’t put your school up for debate I can only guess you support a school in a lesser conference. Stand up and let us know who you support. Don’t be a punk! We all laugh at people like you. LOL!!!

Marv

August 2nd, 2011
11:57 pm

Thomas Davis played for Van Gorder, when the defense was tough and aggressive. Then came the WORST mistake of CMR’s career, Willie Martinez. Wait and react to what, the other team scoring another TD. Soft Willie still haunts this team and you wonder if they will ever recover.