Extra Point Nothing New For Davis

FAYETTEVILLE — Jeremy Davis knew the drill. The kick was much like his first kick in a football game. With the addition of 76,564 fans.

And national television.

And the hopes of a state riding on his shoulders.

But in seventh grade, at Fort Smith's Ramsey Junior High, Davis sent his first kick straight through the uprights. Ramsey won the game 7-6.

"All I remember about that kick was the coach said, ‘Keep your head down just like you're hitting a golf shot,'" Davis said.

Saturday, when Davis trotted onto the field in Razorback Stadium with the score tied at 23 and the Razorbacks needing "just" an extra point for their third consecutive victory, it was holder and punter Jacob Skinner offering up advice.

"When we went out there, I pulled him to the side and said, ‘You know, just stay down your line,' because coach (James) Shibest just talks about how he gets off his line," Skinner said. "I don't know much about kicking, I don't even really know what that means, but it was just stay on your line, kick it high and be confident. He did it and he stroked it."

No doubt about it, Davis' kick was straight down the middle. He powered the ball through, sending Arkansas to a 24-23 double overtime win over Alabama.

As Davis' kick sailed through, he raised his arms in the air and Skinner lifted him up before being mobbed by the rest of his teammates.

"I think that might be the best kick I've had since I've been here," Davis said.

And right when he needed it most.

Davis had missed an extra point earlier, saying he pulled his head up and didn't get his hips turned toward the target.

As he walked out to the field to try what turned out to be the game-winner, Davis couldn't help but think about his earlier miss.

"I was trying to get it out of my head and just think about making the next one but it did come back," Davis said.

Davis had also been in a spot similar to the one Crimson Tide kicker Leigh Tiffin found himself in Saturday, when Tiffin missed an extra point and three field goals.

In high school at Southside High, Davis missed an overtime extra point against Broken Arrow (Okla.) High to give the Tigers the win.

"It was horrible," Davis said. "You either love kickers or you hate them, and at that point, I was pretty much hated. But everybody just kind of got behind me and told me to keep working."

Even with all of the joy surrounding the win, Davis couldn't help but think about Tiffin.

"I feel bad for him," Davis said. "It just happens every once in awhile. I just feel bad for him. He's just got to keep working, it'll be all right."

After serving as the punter in 2004, Davis sat out last year as Skinner took over those duties. Davis replaced Skinner for the final five games after Skinner struggled, averaging 36.6 yards per punt. Davis averaged 39.2 yards in handling the punting duties for the final five games.

"At first, it was pretty tough," Davis said. "I thought I should be playing. Obviously Skinner did a real good job. But I could see myself getting better throughout the year and it was probably the best thing for me to redshirt."

Entering preseason camp, Davis was the favorite to earn the job, but struggled with his consistency as sophomore Stephen Arnold and now-departed Dan Bailey surged ahead. Davis' problems stretched throughout camp, shattering his confidence.

Bailey left the team before the season after finding out that he would have to give up his academic scholarship should he play for the Razorbacks.

But things changed out of nowhere. On the field warming up for the Razorbacks' opener against Southern California, he suddenly started kicking better.

"Something just kind of clicked," Davis said. "My kicks started getting up and I just started hitting a lot better. Then, unfortunately, Arnold missed a couple kicks and I got my chance."

With Skinner set to graduate, Davis could resume punting duties next season. He'll have more competition for the kicking job next season, too. If nothing changes, Davis will have to battle Arnold and current Springdale High kicker Alex Tejada. Tejada verbally committed to the Razorbacks during the summer.

"I hope it's everything," Davis said when asked what his role would be next season. "I just want to do what I can to contribute to the team."

Davis doesn't have much time to work on his golf game, but the sport — one he's played for as long as he can remember — still helps him on the football field.

"It's a lot like golf," Davis said. "Really, it's all just a picture thing. You've got to get it in your head, see the shot, see the kick. Before you even kick it, you've got to know what it's going to do."

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