Walk-on ready to run

CLEMSON - Dabo Swinney sure loves himself a good walk-on story. Who could blame him? It helped shape the man he became after going through the rigors.

Swinney was a scrawny wide receiver from Pelham on the Alabama football team, which won a national championship in 1992 with Gene Stallings as the head coach.

Now the head coach at Clemson, Swinney is all about giving walk-ons the chance to do more, to do more than just get pulverized day in, and day at out at practice. Then, there are guys like C.J. Davidson who make it impossible for Swinney to just want to see do well.

Davidson, a former scholars chip track athlete, joined the football team after former Daniel High School teammate DeAndre Hopkins encouraged him to get back on the gridiron. Entering his third full season with the Clemson football team, Davidson is a legitimate contender for the starting running back job in 2014.

"I feel like the competition in the room is very high. Everybody out there is trying to get the same thing," Davidson said. "The opportunity is there. I've just got to stay healthy, continue to show them what I know what to do and just work hard."

Davidson's role last season was cut down to size when he was sidelined with an injury. For the year, he rushed 34 times for 155 yards, and also caught five passes for 40 yards.

After not playing in the final three games of the regular season, Davidson rushed once for three yards and caught three passes for 22 yards against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.

Along with Zac Brooks, Davidson enters the spring as one of the favorites to win the starting running back job later this fall.

"I feel pretty good, because I know everything is coming into place," Davidson said. "I continue to work hard -- just everything is starting to mend together. I have a feel for it."

The running back battle is larger than a one-on-one showdown with Brooks. D.J. Howard and Wayne Gallman are firmly in the mix for that spot.

"Everybody is fast," Davidson said.

Consistently, Davidson says he's got a step on at least one of the other backs.

"Faster than Zac Brooks," he said, with a laugh. "Whenever he wants to race, we can do it."

Sounds like some halftime entertainment for the spring game.

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