Mike Davis hasn’t seen much live action this spring because USC coach Steve Spurrier wants to keep the Gamecocks junior running back healthy for the fall.
“I am just basically sitting back and learning more things,” Davis said. “It’s a nice feeling, but I am a guy who likes to go out there and compete.”
The 5-foot-9, 216-pound Davis rushed 203 times for 1,458 yards last year, notching the fourth-highest, single-season rushing total in school history despite a collection of nagging injuries that slowed him the second half of the season.
“Even though they say (the starting job) is mine, I like to compete,” Davis said.
He will get that chance this fall, not only against South Carolina’s competition but also against an impressive crop of junior running backs against whom he is sure to be measured.
The SEC features Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon. Nationally, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Miami’s Duke Johnson are members of the group.
Davis measures himself against those players “a lot,” he said.
“I am friends with most of the guys who are up top,” he said. “Of course, I like being up there. I want to be up top amongst them.”
CBSSports.com ranks Davis as the fourth-best NFL prospect in that group, behind Gurley, Yeldon and Gordon.
Davis, like all of those running backs, will be eligible for the NFL draft at the end of this season, and the increasingly physical nature of his position has pushed many running backs out of college early recently. (LSU’s Jeremy Hill would be a member of the vaunted junior class, but he left after his redshirt sophomore season in 2013.)
Davis acknowledged this spring that this could be his final season in Columbia.
“I will talk that over with my family,” he said. “It could be.”
USC’s Mike Davis ranks among the top five junior running backs in the nation (*CBSSports.com ranking in the 2016 NFL Draft Class):
MIKE DAVIS, USC, 5-9/219
MELVIN GORDON, Wisconsin, 6-1/207
TODD GURLEY, Georgia, 6-1/232
DUKE JOHNSON, Miami, 5-9/196
T.J. YELDON, Alabama, 6-2/218