What the nominations do mean is that the formerly underrated defensive end is finally getting some attention as one of the best in his position nationwide. Davis hasn't missed a game in his first two seasons at ASU, starting all 26 contests. Last season he was named to the Second Team All-Pac 10 team after registering 10.5 sacks, good for third in the conference. Despite those numbers, Davis didn't receive the type of attention that he probably should of, but that doesn't bother him.
"I think it is a testament to our team defense," he explained, "We do a lot of things well as a unit. I'm just happy that we play well as a team and the individual stuff isn't as important."
That pretty much sums up Dexter Davis. He is all about the team and doing whatever it takes to lead the Devils to victory. While the junior is considered a seasoned veteran on ASU's defense, he doesn't see himself as a vocal leader.
"I don't feel like that is my role, I try to lead by example out here," he stated. "I don't really try to step out of my element; I just try to do it on the field and just set an example for everybody."
Davis advises to look to the other side of the defensive line to find the group's vocal leader. There you would find senior Luis Vasquez, who has shown great improvement since transferring from Arizona Western to join Davis to give ASU one of the top defensive end duo's in the Pac-10.
"He is a great player on the other side; we do a great job of pushing each other to compete and everything," said Davis, "We want to see each other excel and succeed and he has done a great job in camp so far."
"He is more of the vocal leader and I think he has done a heck of a job being a leader and coming out here every day and try to get better."
Davis and Vasquez will be the veteran leaders on a defensive line that will have a lot of young contributors.
"There have been a lot of guys that have had good camps, James Brooks, Lawrence Guy. Jamarr Robinson had to sit out the first two games but he has showed a lot of promise," said Davis, "Some of the guys inside, Bo Moos and ‘Tank' (Jonathon English)."
That youth and the addition of players elsewhere has allowed defensive coordinator Craig Bray to install more schemes into the defense.
"I think we have some new stuff, attacking type stuff that will definitely help us. We feel that we can attack some teams different," explained Davis, "It is going to benefit all of us; it just gives offenses something different and a little bit more to prepare for."
The Phoenix Thunderbird graduate was nominated for the Bronko Nagurski, awarded to the best defensive player in the nation, as well as the Lombardi Award for the top defensive lineman or linebacker and the Ted Hendricks Award for the top defensive end. Davis is just glad that he could do it in his backyard in front of family and friends.
"It feels great, my family and friends can come and support me," he said. "Arizona is all I've known most of my life so it is great to play in front of the home fans."
Davis will begin trying to take his name off of the paper and onto some hardware on Saturday when ASU opens up against Northern Arizona. But in typical Dexter Davis fashion, he doesn't set winning one of those awards as a personal goal, all that matters to him is if the Maroon and Gold competes for a national title.
"I don't think we are there," Davis said in regards to the play of the defense, "But each week we are going to try and get better. Hopefully, once we hit our stride and get into the meat of our schedule that we can really take it to the next level so we can compete for a national title."
"Winning every game is more important than everything else, if we can do that; the rest will take care of itself."