Q&A WITH THOMAS DAVIS
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 . . .