Jarrad Davis doesn’t always do what he’s supposed to.
A little-known true freshman out of Kingsland, Ga., Davis was supposed to redshirt in 2013. At least, that’s what most expected from him entering last season.He wasn’t supposed to earn more playing time than any freshman linebacker last season.
He wasn’t supposed to earn a start late in the season against Georgia Southern, or make a clutch 4th down tackle at South Carolina.
And he definitely wasn’t supposed to serve as one of the team’s captains a true freshman.
But Jarrad Davis did all of these things. And while he’s proud of what he achieved last season, Davis says what he’s done in the past has no bearing on what he hopes to accomplish this year.
“I feel like my mindset is still the same,” said Davis. “You’ve always got to be hungry and work hard to prove yourself in everything that you do. Personally I’m treating every day like it’s my first day here, I’ve gotta come in and earn my spot.”
Head coach Will Muschamp praises Davis for being a very instinctive linebacker who has a nose for the football. Davis says he’s been working in camp to combine those instincts with improved fundamental play.
“I’ve really been working on trying to be more under control,” said Davis. “Sometimes last year I feel like I got myself out of position, trying to do too much. This year I’m really focusing on always being in the right spot and having better eye control.”
With a number of freshman and sophomores running with the first team so far during camp, Florida’s defense looks to be one of the youngest in the SEC this fall. Davis, though, sees that as a positive for the Gators.
“To me being young is a good thing; it gives us a lot more room to grow. All of our younger guys are really eager to learn, and as some of the more experienced guys we’ve been trying to help them get up to speed. We’ve all been pushing each other hard so far, I think we’ve got a really good group.”
Even after a tough 4-8 season hampered by injuries last year, Davis says the team’s expectations for themselves haven’t changed.
“We always want to be #1 as a team. We all harp on it, we all talk about it. I feel like if we really come together as one I think we can reach any goal we want.”
Davis says he doesn’t want to put on limits on what he can accomplish individually, either.
“Personally I just want to be the best player I can be. I don’t know what that is yet, but I’m working every day to get there.”
With a strong work ethic and group of talented players around him, Davis has a chance to break out this season as one of Florida’s top defensive playmakers.
Even if he’s not supposed to.