South Carolina running back Mike Davis’ first game against good friend and Miami running back Duke Johnson will be his last game as a Gamecock.
“Yeah, it’s officially my last game,” Davis said Thursday afternoon after South Carolina wrapped up its final full-scale practice of the season.
The Gamecocks (6-6) will hold a walk through Friday at Independence Stadium and then finish their season against the Hurricanes (6-6) on Saturday afternoon in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl.
Now that Davis has finally confirmed what most people have known for weeks – “I don’t think it’s a mystery,” running backs coach Everette Sands said Thursday before Davis spoke to reporters – he can get to answering a tougher question: What’s up with his 2014 season?
“He’s had an up-and-down year,” Sands said. “He’s had a lot of good runs throughout the year, and he’s had some injuries that have not allowed him to be full speed all the time, but he’s still put himself in position to have back-to-back, 1,000-yard seasons in the SEC, which is not an easy task.”
Davis, who rushed for 1,183 yards last season, has 927 yards this season. If he can gain 73 against the Hurricanes, he will join George Rogers as the only Gamecocks with multiple 1,000-yard seasons in their career. Davis is aware of the potential for history, Sands said.
“Yeah, Mike is a competitor,” Sands said. “He wants to put himself in position of elite status.”
Davis seemed on the fast track to that status last season, but this year hasn’t gone as smoothly. He rushed for a career-best 183 yards against Kentucky on Oct. 4, but only has one 100-yard game since (against Furman on Oct. 18). He averaged 44.3 yards per game in the final four games of the regular season, and he has one more collegiate game to show NFL talent evaluators that those games were an aberration rather than a trend.
“I would say this is an important game for me,” Davis said. “You always want to go out with a bang.”
“Every game is important because every time you get on the field it’s a job interview, especially if you are looking to go to the next level,” Sands said.
Since he made up his mind to turn pro, a decision that was finalized “not too long ago,” he said, he has been carrying a video camera in the locker room to record moments with his teammates.
“A lot of good stuff, fun moments,” he said.
He has enjoyed catching up this week with Johnson. The two have been friends since 2011, when they were roommates at a Nike high school all-star event in Oregon.
“We talked a lot there,” Davis said. “He was trying to recruit me to come to Miami. That’s how good a person he is. I have known Duke for a very long time. We are really good buddies. We talk every day.”
They have spent time together each time their teams’ paths have crossed at events here this week. Johnson also is considering early entry into the NFL, and plans a Sunday news conference to announce his decision.
For now, though, each has one more thing to do here this week.
“Mike’s ready to go, he’s feeling good,” Sands said, “and I think he’s ready to go put his best foot forward.”