New Mission

When Jameson Davis puts his cleat into a football at Folsom Field this fall, it will have been a long time coming. Davis will be a freshman on the Colorado football team for the 2008 season. He's not your typical freshman, though.

Jameson Davis graduated from Eagle High School in Eagle, Idaho, just outside Boise, in 2004. He was offered a "grayshirt" opportunity at Boise State, meaning he was put on scholarship for the Broncos program in spring 2005. He attended school that semester, and participated in spring football. But at the last minute, Davis — a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints — decided to take a two-year religious mission.

Dan Hawkins, who signed Davis at Boise State, told him he'd have a spot on the Broncos roster when he returned. But Hawkins took the job in Boulder prior to the 2006 season, and Boise State didn't have a scholarship for the placekicker when Davis was preparing to return to the states. It turns out, Colorado did.

Davis will compete in spring football with walk-on Aric Goodman, the former Cherry Creek player who transferred to CU from Wyoming last fall. If maturity plays into the competition, Davis should have a leg up in the battle. He turns 23 in July. He also has a life-changing experience behind him.

Davis had a scant month's worth of training in the Spanish language under his belt when he left for the mission center in Guatemala in 2005. There, he was paired with another missionary in the Guatemalan city of Quetzaltenango, and spent most days walking the streets, talking to Guatemalans about the LDS faith.

"It was a great experience," Davis said. "When I first got there I didn't know the language and it was hard to communicate with the people. I had to get used to the Guatemalan life. But after three months, I started to get the hang of it.

"I really grew to love the people."

He had just turned 20 when he arrived in Guatemala. Young LDS missionaries are discouraged from having frequent contact with their loved ones back home. It's a way to nip potential homesickness in the bud. Davis could write letters to his parents in Idaho whenever he wanted, but could e-mail them only once per week, and was permitted just one phone call per year during his mission. He did not return to the states for the entire two-year period.

"It was hard at first because I missed my family," Davis said. "But after a while, you get used to it. It's a good growing-up process."

Another thing he missed was football. He figures he got to put his foot to the oblong ball on three or four occasions during that two-year span. Instead, he played a lot of fútbol, as soccer is common in Guatemala.

Since January, Davis has been working out under CU strength coach Jeff Pitman's supervision, and kicking footballs in the team's bubble practice facility. One physical benefit of the mission was it gave his knees a chance to heal. Davis had surgeries on both knees to repair meniscus damage three years ago. Just before signing day in February, Davis said the strength in his leg was returning to his pre-mission level.

The longest field goal Davis kicked in high school was 47 yards. He kicked a 72-yarder in practice in years past, and booted one through from 68 yards in the bubble in January.

"My leg is about back to normal," Davis said. "At first it was hard to get my strength back. I was doing pretty good accuracy-wise, but my strength wasn't there because I hadn't been working out. But now it's back to normal."

Back in the states since last September, Davis carries fond memories of his mission and of Guatemala.

"I miss the people," he said. "They're so humble. It's such a poor country, but you walk into a house and they'll greet you and just want to make you feel as comfortable as possible.

"It makes you realize when you're here in the United States, how much we have. And yet we're not happy with it. It's a humbling experience."

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