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South Carolina Gamecocks football 2014 roster preview: No. 28, Mike Davis

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Junior tailback projects to be one of nation's best.

Mike Davis
junior tailback
5'9'' / 223 lbs
Atlanta, GA

Recruitment:
Davis was a consensus four-star prospect, fifth-best tailback in nation, and 45th-best player overall in 2012.

Davis's recruitment was one of the more dramatic in recent memory for Carolina. Throughout the early part of the process, he was verbally committed to Florida for over a year. Reportedly, Florida told Davis that they were only going to take him and Matt Jones at tailback in 2012, and when the Gators tried to make an eleventh-hour push for Keith Marshall, Davis took offense and bailed. Great job, Gators! I'm sure you're really patting yourself on the back for that one.

Davis also considered Georgia after decommiting from Florida, but he committed to South Carolina shortly after Todd Gurley committed to UGA.

Other major offers:
Davis was pursued by virtually every major program in the Southeast as well as several programs from other parts  of the country.

College career:
Davis began his freshman season as Carolina's third-team tailback behind Marcus Lattimore and Kenny Miles. Although Carolina fans got an opportunity to see what Davis could do when he broke a big run in mop-up time against UAB, mop-up time was all he saw early in the season. After Lattimore went down with his gruesome knee injury, though, Davis saw his playing time increase, and he made a meaningful contribution to wins over Arkansas and Clemson.

Here's one of Davis's most memorable runs as a freshman:


With Lattimore and Miles gone, Davis took over starting duties in 2013, and he quickly showed why he was considered such an excellent prospect out of high school, rushing for over 100 yards in seven of the first nine games. Davis also dispelled the perception that he wasn't a good receiver by catching for over 300 yards, including 99 yards with several key catches down the stretch in the win over Missouri. Considered a Heisman contender during midseason, Davis fell out of contention by ending the season slumping due to injury, but with over 1000 yards rushing and 300 yards catching on the year, he clearly established himself as one of the league's best players.

A Davis play that hasn't gotten quite enough credit on his highlight reels:


2014 outlook:
Davis projects to have an All-American caliber season. He's arguably the SEC's top returning back, and he'll be running behind a talented, deep offensive line. Barring injury, he's going to put up big numbers. He'll probably then declare for the NFL Draft and we'll all thank him for three excellent years.

Davis is also considered a decent bet for the Heisman Trophy. Given that Mark Ingram, who won the award in a weak field, is the only runningback to win the Heisman in the last decade, the deck is stacked against Davis winning the award, particularly with so many high-profile quarterbacks returning (Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty, etc.). Davis is very much on the radar, though. If he stays healthy and is able to maintain his numbers all year, who knows?

Trivia:
Mike Davis is the brother of former Clemson standout James Davis. Dabo Swinney's method of communicating to James that Clemson didn't want to bring Mike in for a visit after Mike committed to Carolina caused a bit of a falling out between James and his former coach.