Jarrad Davis was the talk of the day Tuesday, running well, lifting well, jumping well, doing everything well. While some others were stressed about what was going on, Davis attacked the day like he attacked SEC running backs. He had something to prove after missing the last few games of the year and the NFL Combine.
“I felt like it went good,” Davis said in the understatement of the day after the festivities. “I came out here with the mindset of coming out and showing everybody I’m the same athlete I was before. Just showing an ankle injury is an ankle injury. That happens, but I can bounce back every time. I came out here today wanting to show guys that I’m going to compete, I’m going to compete at the top level. I’m going to execute every time I get a chance to. I feel like I did that.”
Gator fans have never questioned Davis and what he has meant to the squad. After a really good junior year, he very well could have left early for the NFL, but he decided to come back and play his senior year. The season for him was going as well as could be expected until the injury derailed him a bit. Davis rushed back, playing through real pain to face off against Georgia, his home state school that ignored him in the recruiting process. As much as he played well, it was a mistake.
“Playing that Georgia week, that was my week, I couldn’t miss that week,” Davis said. “Then I felt like I set myself back a little bit doing that, coming back so fast. That’s just what I do, though. I want to be there for my teammates and that’s what I did. You never know how an injury is going to play out. At the end of the day, looking back, I kind of appreciate it because it just showed me the type of resiliency and the type of person I am and what I can bring to the table.”
Resiliency might explain the work he put in after having to miss the combine. Yes he needed to produce well because of the upcoming NFL Draft, but he was focused on doing it big, just like he’s focused on the football field.
The results from the day included a 38.5” vertical jump that had the crowd watching a bit shocked. A very solid 10’ 9” broad jump, and then a 40-yard run that likely will help him make a lot of money as the NF: Draft approaches next month.
“I think I got a 38-and-a-half on the vertical, 10.9 on the (broad jump) and I got a 4.56 on the 40,” he said. “That was the fastest 40 that I’ve run in my life. For it to come up today, it’s the best day.
What a time to do it, but we really shouldn’t be surprised.
“It’s just part of my game mode,” he said. “I came out here just like I was in The Swamp, just seeing all the coaches and everybody. My family was here supporting me. Just to come out there and kind of mentally mimic that atmosphere, I was able to put myself in a zone I haven’t been in in a while.”
He attacked the vertical jump the same way.
“I’ve been jumping that for a while,” he said matter of fact like. “That was probably one of the highest I’ve jumped.”
“When they put it up I kind of looked up and I’m like, ‘Are you going to move it up?’ So I just went for it. I really just jumped. I wanted to clear the whole thing, but I think it was good.”
They say that film doesn’t lie. Jarrad Davis’ film was as impressive as any out there in 2016. But as good of a football player as he is, his off the field life may be as impactful on his career as his ability on it.
That is why when he made it to the NFL Player Combine at the beginning of the month to answer questions for coaches and general managers. He supposedly hit that part of the research on him out of the park.
“The biggest thing for me, I knew coming into the combine that guys wanted to know what kind of a person I was off the field,” he said. “They see the player I am on the field. A lot of coaches and teams they loved it. I think that’s what they determined. For me to go in the combine, the only mindset I had was go in there and show them the young man that your mom and dad raised, and I did exactly that. I didn’t try to hide anything, I didn’t sugarcoat anything. I think that’s where a lot of guys mess up. They go in there and try to put on something they’re not. They want to see exactly who you are so they know who they’re going to pick. I just wanted to go in and let them know this is exactly who you have, this is exactly who you’re going to get every single day.”
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was on hand and looking hard at both Davis and fellow Gator linebacker Alex Anzalone who should also go high in the draft. The realization has set in that he now won’t have a choice of where he goes. He’s lived his entire life not too far from home, and now, he could end up anywhere.
“It’s definitely tough, man,” he said no knowing where he’s going to go. “It’s a new experience and it’s something that’s really exciting. I never would have really thought I would have been in this place at this point, you know, and I really can only attest it to my parents and God. They really brought me up to be a great person and a hard worker and I’ll never leave anything to chance. I stayed at home, stayed close to home, from Kingsland to Gainesville is only an hour and a half down the road. Then I went to Orlando to train, so I was still close. Now, it’s up in the air. I’m really exciting for this new chapter in my life. I just hope that I can be a good example for everybody else.”
Gator fans can only ask… is there any doubt?