When you get a player that won’t talk, you don’t expect much when you finally get him. Usually reserved and maybe not flashy in their language, you just want to get whatever you can out of them. That isn’t the case with Jarrad Davis. The Kingsland (GA) Camden County High School All-Star has a lot to say and sounds good when doing so.
I actually found this out by first talking to his high school coach. Jeff Herron runs a championship program at Camden County and has had his share of big time ball players. He couldn’t speak more highly of Davis if he had to.
“I think the world of him,” Herron old me earlier this week. “He is just a great kid. He has never been a problem in any way, shape, or form for us. He is a kid that when you walk in our weight room he will be out-working everyone in there. If you come to practice he will be going harder at practice than anyone. In the classroom he will be working harder than anyone. He is just that kind of man and he got that from his momma.
“He is so hard working and dedicated and self-motivated. You just really appreciate that as a coach.”
That is high praise from a coach with a pedigree like Herron has. Of course Herron also knows he is one heck of a football player.
“He is very aggressive, almost too much so,” the personable coach said with a laugh. “In practice we would have to calm him down. He just has one speed and that’s fast. He has good range, good coverage skills, is a physical kid, and is a very smart and intelligent kid.”
Some folks have seen pictures of Davis and just think the young guy looks mean, one of those nasty dudes that will just rip your head off for no reason. Herron was quite tickled at that notion.
“He is definitely not a mean kid or mean dude,” he stated while still laughing. “On the field he is a very serious no-nonsense kid at practice and in games and in the weight room. If you’re around and talking to him, he’s a great kid… very personable and a nice young man. He flips the switch when it is time to work.”
Coach Herron gave off the impression that Davis could run for President and be an MMA champion with the way he approaches the different things in his life. After chatting with Davis himself, the star linebacker agrees.
“That is how it is,” Davis said after asking about his multiple personalities and laughing. “I joke around with people and let them know that on the field I am a totally different guy than in the classroom. If they want to get mad at me I just tell them to put some pads on and come on out.”
Davis said the Florida coaching staff has recognized his versatility both on the field and in life and that is a big reason they really pushed hard to get a commitment from him. He just had his in-home with Florida head coach Will Muschamp last week and they discussed all of this even further.
“The last time I saw them was last Monday for the home visit from Coach Muschamp,” he started. “It was great, we had a great time. We sat around and laughed, watched football, and talked about things.
“They like my personality and the kind of person I am. They like what kind of student I am as well. They also like my athleticism.
They like that when I am into something I just go get it, whatever it is. I like to go fast in practice and everything. Once it is game time it is like a walk in the park for me.”
And that is probably the reason he committed to Auburn early in the process. He didn’t care too much for the stressful recruiting process and so he found a place and a coaching staff he liked and he pulled the trigger for the Tigers.
“I think he got the chance is one of the things that makes him such a unique kid,” Herron said of his star pupil. “He committed to Auburn last spring. He had offers early on from Auburn and Tennessee. Over the winter break he went and visited both schools. He also visited Georgia Tech. Afterward he called me up and said he liked Auburn and wanted to get it over with. He really liked the coaches and wanted to commit to them.”
Then Auburn had a terrible season and the coaching staff was let go. Coach Herron made it easy on the kid that always wanted to live up to his word and told Davis he needed to reconsider everything.
“He came back and went about his business and everything was fine,” Herron said. “He didn’t even consider anything else. Then, the weekend Auburn had a coaching change he came to my office and was torn up about it. I told him there was no guarantee that the new coach will want you so you have to open this back up. You can still go to Auburn but you have to consider other options.”
“Muschamp is just such a serious guy. When I was on my official visit, he just had that look in his eye."
The thing now was that there were a whole lot more options for Davis. And some that were around now that may have altered his original decision.
“He wasn’t the typical kid that commits early and doesn’t have a great senior year,” Herron said. “He had a better year than ever and then had offers from everyone. He had about 40 offers including Florida. He liked Florida and Georgia the most, the Gators offered first and so he said that is what he wanted to do.
Florida had a stellar year going 11-1 in the regular season and finishing with a top five defense that really no one wanted to play. Gainesville and the Gator program was basically everything Davis was looking for.
“Like it was for Auburn, I went down there and fell in love with the staff and it was a good place for me,” he said. “It is close to home and they do great things. They are one of the top defenses in the nation. As a defensive player that is eye candy for me.
“I just love the staff and the kind of football they play and I just like the area.”
Davis said the Gators see him as a MIKE or WILL linebacker, both are really inside linebacker positions in the defense. It is a position that he is familiar with now that Herron moved him there, again because of his value as an overall player.
“I think he can play outside or inside,” Herron said. “He has done both for us. We moved him to middle linebacker this year because of his leadership. We just wanted that guy there for communication… his intelligence.
It was a difficult move from outside to inside for Davis in terms of what he preferred. The versatile athlete also played some tight end and H-back on offense, but in the end the move to the middle on defense was a good one.
“When they first told me they were going to move me I wasn’t too excited about it,” he said. “But in the end I felt like it was better that I was in the middle of the field and able to communicate with everyone.”
Florida likes the move as well.
“They tell me that they will look at me at the MIKE and WILL positions, because it is what I am good at and what I do,” he said. “They say if I put more weight on I could possibly move out to the SAM or the BUCK.”
And the coach thinks the fit at Florida and their program is an absolute perfect one.
“He is Coach Muschamp’s kind of guy,” Herron said. “I have had the privilege of knowing Coach Muschamp since he was in college and when he was a young coach. That fire and intensity and no-nonsense approach he has on the field, he and Jarrad are going to hit it off real well.”
Davis is thrilled to be joining the Florida program in June after signing his letter of intent next week. He mentioned Muschamp and new defensive coordinator/ linebacker coach D.J. Durkin as key reasons for his excitement and the main reason he chose to be a Gator.
“It was really Durkin and Muschamp… a combo,” he said. “Durkin is such a high energy guy. He is intense on the field. I want someone that is intense to me every day both on and off the field.
“Muschamp is just such a serious guy. When I was on my official visit, he just had that look in his eye. He is there for business and to do work.”
“Seeing those things out of Durkin and Muschamp it was like a one-two punch and just perfect for me.”
Auburn is the one school that still tries to sway him, but Davis says there is really nothing to it. The respectful kid will listen, but he is set on his destination.
“Auburn is still looking at me, but every time I talk to them I stress to them that Florida is the place for me,” he said. “They can tell me what they want and I will listen, but it won’t change my mind.”
Davis is 6-3 and weighs 220 pounds and says he would like to put on about five more pounds before he shows up to campus in June. There is little doubt he will work hard until that point and signing on Wednesday is something that will be special.
“It feels great,” he said about the national signing date finally approaching. “I am just ready for February 6th to roll around and for me to sign that paper.”
What does he want Gator fans to know about how he plays the game and will do so when he puts on the orange and blue?
“I like to be physical and fast,” he said. “When I get to the ball I want to deliver a punch and blow. I want to make sure the ball carrier knows I will be coming back for more.”