David Davis says he wants to make his own name. It's no wonder: He's got a pretty famous family.
California's most recent commit's grandfather – Willie – is an NFL Hall of Fame defensive end, and his father – Duane Davis – has his own measure of gridiron fame, having been part of the ensemble of 1993's The Program, playing Alvin Mack, among other screen credits.
The defensive tackle – standing at 6-foot-1, 300 pounds – may not go to Dad for any football tips, but since high school, he's regularly gone to his grandfather.
"I'm more concerned with creating my own name, but in high school – and even now – I'd send him my game film, and he'd always look at it and give his opinion on stuff that he felt I needed to work on. That was a great asset to have, no question," Davis says.
Of course, the game has changed since Willie played for the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers. Certain elements of defensive line play, though, remain the same.
"He always tells me to use my hands, and always attack with your hands, disengage with blockers, staying low. A lot of it is still the same concepts," Davis says.
That tutoring helped Davis, coming out of Palos Verdes (Calif.) as part of the 2010 class as a three-star defensive tackle, and he committed as a junior to Washington State.
"I took unofficials to Arizona, Wisconsin and Northwestern, and kind of got a feel for things," Davis says. "Wazzu was the first one to offer amongst some other schools, but it was my biggest one among the BCS conferences, and I liked the coaching staff – coach Paul Wulff, Steve Morton, Chris Ball, coach [Todd] Howard, all those guys, and I just felt like it was going to be a great place to be."
After two years on the bench in Pullman, though, Davis felt it was time for a change after the 2012 season.
"Personally, it just wasn't a good fit," Davis says. "I just thought it was best to move on. That's the best way to put it. I'm happy I was given a second chance at Long Beach City College, and I'm happy I was able to make the most of it."
While with the Cougars and down in Long Beach, Davis played in a variety of systems – and at a variety of positions.
"My first year, was the 4-3 with coach Howard, and the second year, we switched to more of a 3-4. We did both during my time at Washington State," Davis says. "At my JuCo, I've played anything from defensive end to three-technique, to weak end. We didn't run it much, but there was a package where I could be a stand-up backer, so I feel like I can pretty much play anywhere on the line."
Davis laughs that, though he has a 40-yard dash time somewhere "in the 4.9 range," the Vikings "never really ran" the package that would put him at linebacker.
"I feel pretty quick, but no way I play backer," Davis laughs. "It was just a goal-line situation that, if we were there, I would have been able to stand up, by choice, but I like having my hand down. I wouldn't consider myself a linebacker, by any stretch."
Defensive end, though, is in his genes – thanks to Willie. That said, Cal wants him to come in as a three-technique defensive tackle, and he's just fine with that. Last season, in nine games, Davis made 27 tackles, including two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. He earned offers from UTEP, Wyoming and New Mexico, with Cal being the latest – and final – offer.
One month after his offer from the Bears, Davis made his official visit to Berkeley, and even before he boarded his flight to the Bay Area, he had an idea that he may commit.
"I kind of had a feeling," Davis says. "It's such a great academic program, and it's a storied football program. They didn't have the year that they wanted to last year, but they have a lot of key guys coming back, especially on defense. I think it's a program that's going to bounce back."
The year that the Bears didn't want was dismal, particularly on defense. Cal broke school records for most points allowed per game (39.2 in 2001; 45.9 in 2013), most touchdowns allowed (56 in 2001; 72 in 2013); most yards given up (5388 in 2003; 6355 in 2013), most passing yards given up (3516 in 2003; 4092 in 2013), fewest interception return yards (10 in 1997; 0 in 2013) and opponent completion percentage (63.6 in 2009; 64.7 in 2013), while tying the most touchdown passes surrendered (32 in 2012).
That said, Davis spent plenty of time over the weekend with defensive tackles coach Barry Sacks, and sees potential up front.
"When I was with coach Sacks, I was able to watch a lot of film on the guys that were coming back, and particularly the Stanford game," Davis says. "It was really cool to kind of see them dominate the line of scrimmage. You wouldn't be able to tell from the score, but there were plenty of plays where they were driving people back and kind of dominating. That was really exciting to see."
Davis's host for the weekend was Jacobi Hunter, who came in at the same size as Davis and serves as a bit of a prototype for what Cal wants out of Davis.
"Jacobi, we're pretty much the same size, so it was great to be able to talk to him. He seemed like a great guy," says Davis.
Davis also spent plenty of time with his fellow visitors, including 2013 defensive tackle pledge Garrett Hughes, who spent last semester getting academics in order at a junior college, without playing football.
"[Hughes] seemed really cool, and Jonathon Johnson from L.A. Pierce and Dominique [Harrison] from Contra Costa -- we actually have a mutual friend, me and Dominique -- so we all kind of had something in common, whether it was being from L.A. or mutual friends. Everyone who was up there was really cool," Davis says. "It was great to take the campus tour and getting to hang out with guys on the team. We went down to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, just went around the town of Berkeley. It was nice being able to hang out with some of the younger guys on the team and getting a sense of what the pulse was on the team."
A 3.0 student at both Washington State and Long Beach City College, Davis intends to continue majoring in mass communications, with an eye toward marketing or broadcasting.
"I still kind of want to do both, but I know that I need to narrow it down to one direction," says Davis, who favors the broadcasting side of things. "That's what my family has done, been in the radio business, so that's probably the route I'm leaning towards."
Beyond the Commit: Get to Know David Davis
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