RECRUITING: Davis Follows Dad's Footsteps

His father proudly wore number twenty-seven at the University of Florida, where he was named to the Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference team as a cornerback. He was an integral leader of those Doug Dickey-era teams and after a career ending injury- traded his athletic prowess for settling down and starting a family. Tragically, Henry Davis died of a heart attack when his son, Enrique, was just three years old.

(Enrique Davis profile)

"Henry Davis was an All-SEC defensive back in his junior year," legendary sports columnist Jack Hairston recalled. "He was outstanding back there. He was fast and tough. You didn't see many like him back then. (Coach Doug) Dickey described him often to us as the best athlete on our team. He got a knee injury in a pre-season scrimmage (senior year) and he couldn't play again. Sometimes the knee injuries recovered in the seventies and sometimes they just didn't. It probably knocked him out of an NFL career."

In many ways, Enrique Davis is a chip off of the old block. Perhaps, the biggest difference is the school colors. Henry was a stellar tailback at Bay High School, one of two high schools in what was once a very rural county. Enrique is currently carving out quite an impressive resume' for Mosley High School, which first opened its' doors while his father was earning all-conference honors for the Gators in the fall of 1975.

Just like his father did so many years ago, the 6-1, 210-pound junior is rewriting Bay County rushing records. This past season, he ran for over 1,800 yards. He scored 25 touchdowns and established himself as one of the top backs in The Sunshine State. Davis recently visited the Florida campus for Junior Day.

"On my way there (to Gainesville) I was thinking that I'm going to the college that he used to go to and now I'm going to visit," Davis recalled. "I'm not really sure how to explain it. I was really just happy about it, you know? It's that feeling that you get knowing that's the same place where he was at one time. So now I get to see exactly where he was at when he ran on that field and played.

"It was exciting to be around other top prospects in the state of Florida." he continued. "You get to meet them and see what they're about. Coach (Urban) Meyer was a real good person. He spoke with knowledge about the game which is what I like. He talked about the academic program and it sounds like they like to stay ahead of the game with their schoolwork. I liked what the coaches had to say about the whole program. They recruited the top class this year and it was exciting to hear what they're building for this year. I liked the view of the field from the box. The atmosphere of the fans at the basketball game was just crazy. They're really into it."

Mosley went 8-4 in Coach Perry Brown's first year at the Dolphins' helm. Florida fans might recall that Brown was the head coach at Dade City Pasco when Darren Hambrick and Taras Ross led the Pirates to their first ever state championship in "The Swamp."

"He (Coach Brown) likes to spread the offense," Davis said. "He doesn't like to give the ball to one back over and over. He likes to keep the defense guessing. I like that about him. It puts pressure on the defense. I played both ways at the start of the season. I played defensive end and running back but Coach Brown doesn't want us to go both ways, so I strictly played running back the rest of the year. "

His best games were against cross-town rival Rutherford when he rushed for 298 yards in Mosley's 34-26 victory. He had a 297-yard performance in the Dolphins 55-20 win over Early County (Georgia).

"Personally, I like running strong," Davis added. "It really doesn't matter if it's inside or out. I just want to get as much as I can when they give it to me. When I get the ball I don't like to give up on the first hit. I watch film and that's one thing that I want to see is that I'm breaking tackles and keep going. I want to keep trying. I don't want to go down."

Davis added that his leadership skills are probably among his finest attributes. He enjoys encouraging his teammates and challenging them to back up what they've been talking about during the week at practice. That probably doesn't surprise many who knew his father.

"Henry and I were good pretty close," said Alvin Cowans, former Florida great and former teammate of Henry Davis. "We came into the University of Florida together and became part of 'The Soul Patrol.' It was just a couple of years or so earlier that the first black athlete had even played at the University of Florida. For the secondary to change that quickly was quite an accomplishment. We had a tremendous group of athletes back there. All of us were former (high school) running backs.

"Henry was a probably the best athlete on our team. I suppose that he was 5-11 and 190, maybe 200. He was a fast, strong, physical guy. You just didn't see a player with his physique playing corner in the seventies. Henry had a huge chest and was really muscled up. He punished you when he tackled you too. We both handled punt returns. I remember him taking a punt against Miami for a score. That was a huge play for us in that game. He was an NFL caliber player.

"A lot of guys are gamers," Cowans stated. "They go through practice and turn it on when the game starts. Henry was one of the few who worked as hard at practice as he did during a game. Guys would tell him to tone it down at practice, because he would just go after you. He practiced like he played.

"Vernell Brown is the MVP, the guy that demonstrates the proper work ethic and lifestyle that all of us want to see at Florida. Well, I'm telling you that Henry Davis was the Vernell Brown of those days. He was everything you wanted --- athletic, tough, intense, academically sound, respectful of others. He was a just a tremendous individual. He was a natural leader in the way that he carried himself on and off of the field."

Enrique Davis said that he grew up a Florida fan. He added that he could picture himself playing there on the field where his father once wooed crowds with his dazzling speed and athleticism. The Mosley junior said that he runs a 4.4 forty and ran a 10.8 in the 100 as a sophomore. He bench presses 335, squats 475, and cleans 305 in winter conditioning.

"He's an extremely talented player," Brown said. "He is big, fast, and strong. He runs a 4.5 or maybe better, benches around 350, and power cleans over 300 pounds. He averaged probably eight to ten yards per carry for us this year after 200 carries and that gives you an idea of what kind of things Enrique can do.

"He was one of the leaders of our team as a junior. There's no doubt about it. These kids look at him as a role model and he really takes pride in it."

Davis said that he is now receiving the full complement of mail. Ole Miss and UCF were quick to offer. Alabama, Notre Dame, Iowa, Auburn, Miami, Florida, Florida State are just a few of the other schools that are showing interest.

He said that he currently carries a 3.0 as evidenced by his most recent report card. He scored a 17 on his first ACT attempt, and retook the test recently. He believes that he definitely improved his score.

"I don't know much, but I do know that he liked Florida at lot," Enrique Davis said of his father's football days at Florida. "I know that one time he ran a punt return back against Miami. I watched some tape on him when he was at Bay High School too. We have a lot of pictures around the house and a couple of plaques that tells me a lot about him."

Athletically, father and son have established themselves on the Bay County football gridiron. If Florida offers, Davis just might follow his father to Gainesville and suit up in the Orange and Blue where number #27 would be available.


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