“I’ve been impressed by him, little No. 40,” Attaochu said.
With multiple linebackers down with injuries for Saturday morning’s scrimmage, defensive coordinator Ted Roof gave Davis plenty of snaps, which he validated by making a number of tackles. He seems to possess that indefinable knack for finding the ball.
“He’s got great instincts,” Roof said. “You’ll ask him, ‘Why’d you do that?’ ‘Well, I don’t know.’ And that’s OK. We don’t want to screw that one up.”
“Sometimes, guys just understand the game,” McCollum said. “He understands the game.”
As a freshman, Davis is not available to media until he plays in a game, per team policy.
Roof promoted Davis into the new two-deep depth chart released Tuesday as the No. 2 weakside linebacker behind Quayshawn Nealy. He’s the only freshman on the defensive two-deep and one of four on the entire depth chart. Not surprisingly, special-teams coordinator Dave Walkosky also is eyeing Davis as a potential contributor on kick coverage or return teams.
It is the start, at least, of an underdog tale. Davis was a two-star recruit at Cairo, mostly attracting FCS-level scholarship offers. He wowed Tech coaches at their camp going into his senior year, but they were unable to offer him a scholarship because they had already met their limit.
“Shoot, he played every position in camp,” said McCollum, also Tech’s recruiting coordinator. “He played linebacker, he played running back, he played safety. We looked at him everywhere.”
McCollum stayed in touch with Davis throughout the fall. When some players committed to Tech changed their minds days before national signing day, opening room for Davis, he quickly accepted Tech’s offer, himself backing off a commitment to Temple.
While blessed with instincts, Davis needs to learn his assignments in Roof’s scheme and become a more disciplined player, McCollum said.
“He is nowhere near ready to play, but he does understand the game, loves playing, plays fast and can run and is physical,” McCollum said.
As for the jersey number, Davis wore No. 21 in high school and did not request No. 40, which was memorably rotated among team members last season in honor of Burnett. Coach Paul Johnson was the one to assign him 40, which was one of the few unclaimed numbers from 30 to 69, the typical range for linebackers.
Thus far, it looks like it fits.