It took two seasons of high school football for Rion Davis to demonstrate how talented he is.
As a sophomore safety for A.C. Flora, Davis had his breakout season in 2012, racking up 116 tackles, a sack, and three interceptions (two for touchdowns) and a 92-yard kickoff return touchdown. With that, he put himself squarely among the state’s top 2015 college prospects.
“He turned a lot of heads with some of the stats, but also just the instincts that he showed, even at that young age,” Falcons coach Reggie Shaw said.
Now entering his senior season, Davis is a three-star recruit, ranked 17th among the state’s rising seniors by 247sports.
“I have been able to work with Rion since his freshman year, and I recognized early with him – he had a unique blend of athleticism and understanding that is very rare at that position,” defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Mark Cagle said.
Davis picked up a scholarship offer from N.C. State in December 2013 and also is being recruited by South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, as well as Georgia Tech and Clemson.
Davis said although he is focused on preparing for his final season with the Falcons, he also is looking forward to making his college choice.
“I’m really excited to have the chance to play college football, because I believe, if you’re gifted with a talent, you should go out and show the world,” Davis said.
That’s why Davis has not been pursuing excellence solely on the football field. After the Falcons’ football season ended in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, Davis turned his attention to leading the Flora basketball team.
His wit and athleticism helped propel the Falcons to the Class 3A championship in March.
“I actually think football helped me improve as a basketball player,” Davis said.
And Shaw said Davis’ offseason work with the basketball team made him an even greater asset as the Falcons returned to football activities.
“The more you compete year-round, the more mental toughness they have when they come back and compete on the field,” he said. “It’s a mental edge with Rion, and it also provides a physical edge because of the quickness and agility. He’s the kind of hybrid athlete that you want to have on your defense.”
Davis wasn’t always a football player.
As a youngster, Davis thought basketball would be his only sport. But when his parents encouraged him to try football, he discovered that he loved it.
“I have to thank my parents, and the coaches at my recent schools, for pushing me,” Davis said. “I didn’t know how good I could be until my sophomore year, but I wouldn’t have gotten there without them.”
And Shaw is glad Davis is at Flora for one more season.
“We’re blessed to have a lot of talent in the defensive secondary, and Rion is a big part of that,” Shaw said. “Both he and Denzel Johnson are just tremendous players. We’re just excited about their potential.”
Said Cagle: “He’s as good a safety as I’ve coached and one of the finest young men.
“He will be a tremendous success not only because of what he’s got on the outside, but also what he’s got on the inside.”