More Than a Replacement

As Sun Devil fans anxiously await the season debut of the injured Loren Howard, they have been treated to a pleasant surprise at defensive end. Redshirt freshman Dexter Davis has taken full advantage being a starter on a revamped defensive line. Playing as well as he is right now, he told Devils Digest that he isn't concerned with the possibility of backing up Howard in the future.

The 6-2 243 Dexter Davis was one of the team's defensive standouts in fall camp. When Howard succumbed to his quad injury, and a hobbled Tranell Morant could not shake off his own bumps and bruises, Davis was called upon to start opposite Kyle Caldwell at defensive end. The redshirt freshman is third on the team in total tackles with nine, and last week tied for the team lead in tackles with six.

"I'm feeling pretty good," said Davis. "I just want to come out here in practice, and improve everyday so I can help the team. Just do whatever it takes. I really didn't think about it (the Howard injury) too much. I know what I have to do for the team and I just stepped in and made the most of my role. I'll continue to do so until he's back and we'll see what happens from there. Howard is a great player and I'll try to give him some competition."

A player's biggest improvement usually takes place between their first and second year on the team. Davis has noticed some technical aspects that have improved ever since he arrived in Tempe. "I improved in using my hands in the run game and coming off blocks," he said. "Just my technique in general."

As a former two-time 4A state champion wrestler, Davis is utilizing his technique from that sport in his role. "Wrestling has helped my work ethic and that carried into the football field. Some of the stuff I do with my hands, the way I react with my body…that all comes from wrestling."

Even though he redshirted last season, Davis feels that he's part of a defensive line that is much improved from 2005 and that is determined to silence its critics. "I definitely feel like I have something to prove to a lot of people. That was a big motivation for us in the off-season. That really has helped us."

Davis, a Phoenix Thunderbird High School graduate, is fortunate to share the fruits of his success with his family and friends who have been very supportive of him even when he was sitting out the 2005 campaign. "It's great to have them out watching me," he claimed. "It's great having such a support system around me. It's a real benefit."

Colorado, ASU's next opponent, may have been struggling thus far in 2006, but Davis portrays them as anything but a weak match-up. "They got a lot of different schemes and plays we'll have to adjust to," he commented. "But we watched a lot of film, and going through practice getting a feel for they will do. We'll be ready on Saturday."

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