Davis: Up and Running

Jon Davis has come a long way; both literally and figuratively. When you are a member of a military family, "move" is a common verb. Davis bounced from North Carolina to overseas, even as far as Japan, before settling in Papillion, Nebraska, a suburb of Omaha, in the 9th grade.

But, despite being only minutes from the intoxicating Memorial Stadium in the Huskers hey-day, the lanky receiver didn't pick up the game of football until he was a junior. And despite his immense talent and size, the 6'4 Davis struggled to see the playing field.


"I didn't play until I was a senior. Other guys always talk about pee-wee days, but I didn't do any of that, but I still fell in love with the game," Davis said.


Davis quickly learned how advantageous his athletic tools are as he was named second team all-Omaha after compiling 23 catches, 800 yards and 13 touchdowns in his only real high school season. People started to notice. Davis was asked to walk-on down the road at Nebraska, a dream for most kids in the Cornhusker state. But, Davis didn't flinch.


"I wasn't really a fan. I watched them on T.V, but that was about it," Davis said.


When Iowa State entered the fray and offered a scholarship, Davis jumped at the opportunity. Despite leaving the state of Nebraska, the Huskers have been a common theme in Davis' Cyclone storybook.


In his first year on the sidelines for Iowa State in 2002, Davis was apart of the roster that thumped Nebraska at Jack Trice for the first time in 10 years, and only the tenth time in the last 85 years.


Two years later, he set career highs in receiving yards and went over the 100 yard mark for the first time in Iowa State's 34-27 win over the Big Red. And he sealed the victory after being on the receiving end of a 77 yard strike from Bret Meyer, ISU's longest play in the last three years.


He is part of a senior class that has never lost to Nebraska at home.


But, on an overcast day in the first week of spring drills this past March, it looked as if Davis wouldn't get the chance to beat-up his home-state team again.


During an ordinary route to the sideline that he had run hundreds of time, something popped.


"It was one of the easiest routes we've got. It was just a hitch route, nobody was by me, I just pushed off and fell over. I thought somebody kicked me or I rolled my ankle. When I first did it, it really hurt," Davis said.


As Davis writhed in pain, the Cyclone trainers rushed to his aid. Moments later Davis received the news that he has ruptured his Achilles tendon. A potentially career-threatening injury.


"I was numb. I heard so many things, I heard I wouldn't be back until October, and I also heard I wouldn't be able to come back from that at all," Davis said.


Davis leg was placed in a cast for the next two months. On May 16th, he was finally free to start rehab. But, Davis said he clearly wasn't the same.


"It was hard. I couldn't do things I tried to do. I had to work on veering to my left and I couldn't plant on it. It got better as I worked, but I had some trouble trying to run again," Davis said.


Davis' hard work and determination helped him overcome the odds.


"They planned on me starting to run in the middle of July, but I was running by the end of June," Davis said.


However, it was that first hitch route after his injury that signaled to Davis he was going to make a full recovery.


"Right when he called it (the hitch route) I was like, "Dang." He threw it to me and I got it, but I was glad to get it over. All the guys were laughing when I came back to the huddle," Davis said.  


Davis would eventually be healthy enough to play and start in the first game of the season against Toledo. Fittingly, the first play of the Cyclone season was a completion to Davis on a hitch route. He was officially back.


After making big plays in the first four games, Davis saved some heroics for last Saturday. Trailing 27-21, Jon executed a perfect post corner route towards the corner of the end-zone and found the ball headed for his direction. He grasped the ball and helped the Cyclones survive the Panthers.


Davis finished the game with a career high in catches (7) and yards (117).


The performance was good enough to merit the game ball and accolades from his teammates. A gesture certainly not lost by Davis.


"It felt pretty good, just being out there playing again. Nobody thought that I would be in the running for anything like that. To be able to play and receive that game ball is a big thing for me," Davis said.


"I thought Bret was going to get it (game ball) because he broke another record or something. I'm just glad we won."


After five games, the Cyclones have more wins than losses, but Davis isn't satisfied.


"We know we can be a whole lot better than that, instead of stressing everybody, and us, out every game. So, we plan on getting better. We have to cut down on mental mistakes and penalties. We're killing ourselves," Davis said.


"We have to pick things up. Morale is still high. We're 3-2, but it could be a whole lot worse."


Davis said he sees and hears what some are saying about the coaching staff, but said it is up to the players to be accountable.


"They are saying a lot of stuff about the coaching and the play-calling, but even though they call the plays, we have to make it happen. You can put the blame on us," Davis said.


With another match-up against Nebraska on the horizon, Davis said this one means a little more.


"It has some emphasis on it, for bragging rights at home. Just to be able to play with some people I played against in high school or that I have acquaintances with," Davis said.


Davis thinks the Cyclones will be able to attack the Huskers like Kansas did a week ago. The Jayhawks piled up over 570 yards of offense, including over 400 through the air. 


"Kansas put up some points and moved the ball. We looked at the film to see some things that they did. We're pleased to see somebody else could move the ball on them and we'll take some things from that," Davis said.


Might we see a no-huddle offense from Iowa State?


"We've always been confident in the two minute offense. If he wants to do it, it might work. I wouldn't mind it, since I know how good we are at it," Davis said.


But, in the end, Davis isn't taking anything for granted. After coming so far, he's just glad to get the chance to take the field.


"It just feels good to be out there running around again."




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