Josh Kendall

News and views about Gamecocks football

Pro Prospects: Mike Davis emerging as prime-time player

09/13/2013 11:11 AM

08/27/2014 5:19 PM

Josh Norris, NFL Draft writer for, joins us again this week, and the first topic of conversation is South Carolina sophomore running back Mike Davis.

Norris says Davis is better than the 2011 and 2012 versions of Marcus Lattimore and has now joined the elite backs of what is considered the draft class of 2015. We also talk about Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews, and what makes him so tough to handle.

The State: Let’s start with Mike Davis. He’s not going anywhere this year because he’s a sophomore and won’t be eligible for the NFL Draft, but he looks right now like he’s going to have a decision to make at the end of next season. Has his name started popping up?

Norris: This 2015 running back class is going to be loaded. You obviously have T.J. Yeldon at Alabama. You have both Georgia backs. You have Duke Johnson at Miami, and I really think that Mike Davis has inserted his name into that group. This is someone who we didn’t get a very good read on before this year, but man has he impressed me. I love backs who can win on first contact and he certainly can do that with his leg drive, his leverage ability. Then he’s been displaying this long speed.

It’s not going to be a popular opinion to say this, but I think he’s better than the version of Marcus Lattimore we saw after (Lattimore’s) original knee injury. Davis, he’s just spectacular man. I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep feeding him and feeding him because he really has embraced that lead back role. The way he plays some might question if he can hold up, but he’s built to do that. I have been very, very impressed by not only how he can convert the short-yardage game but also break off the big runs. I do think that Davis is going to be one of those prime-time players heading into next year.

The State: Vanderbilt has a prime-time player for this year’s draft class in wide receiver Jordan Matthews. He considered coming out last year but returned and seems to be having a great year so far.

Norris: I’m not quite as high on Matthews as other people are. Many are putting him straight in that top 32 already. I’m not sure exactly if his skill set translates as fluidly from college to the NFL, but he’s used all over the field. Obviously, he’s a long strider so they use him in short smoke screens, bubble screens, things like that at the line of scrimmage.

If he gets that first block, he can take the play to the house. He can eat up cushion very quickly, which puts his opposition off balance. He’s not that speedy receiver that you think about with vertical routes but because he can go up and get the ball at the catch point, track it, use good technique, that does make him a vertical threat. I certainly would watch him. They line him up in the slot sometimes, off line, on the line. He pretty much is used everywhere, and he really will be the focus on this South Carolina defense.

The State: We here a lot about Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin’s recruiting, and their talent base is supposed to be much better, but it sounds like that talent is among the underclassmen, right?

Norris: They have another wide receiver in Chris Boyd, who is suspended for being some part of the investigation that led them to dismiss four players, and Boyd is a pretty good player. If he does get reinstated, he’s meeting with a judge on Friday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if later in the year, if he is reinstated, I think he’d be their second-best player.


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