While standing outside the gates at Maryland’s June 7 one-day camp, Maryland junior safety Sean Davis approached this reporter and simply said, “Hey, watch out for my little brother. He’s a good one.”
Indeed, I thought … but FBS good? Maryland good? I wasn’t quite sure at the time.
Yes, the name Isaiah Davis cropped up a couple years ago when Sean Davis’ younger sibling attended a local prospect camp. But since then the Temple Hills, Md., native, who transferred from Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.) to St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Alexandria, Va.) last year, had been relatively quiet, generating just a few stray college looks, mainly from Division I-AA institutions. This spring, however, after sprouting up to 6-feet-1 and bulking up to around 220 pounds, the muscle-bound missile proved he could play at college football’s top level, dominating the camp scene and opening eyes along the way.
First, he tore up Boston College’s one day, earning his first major scholarship, and shortly thereafter he did the same in College Park, Md., just as his older brother had predicted. Davis continued his torrid streak at NC State, Virginia Tech and Tennessee, pulling scholarships from each. But a lingering question remained. It was, really, a white-elephant-in-the-room type of deal: What of Maryland?
Davis, who projects as an inside linebacker (the “MO” position) couldn’t possibly choose another school after stating how much he wanted to play with his older brother, could he? Sure, the Terps have lost their share of legacy recruits, but Davis? He was a lock, right?
Well, he made the presumed favorites sweat for more than two months, but on August 12 Isaiah Davis finally jumped on the Maryland Pride bandwagon, guaranteeing he and his sibling will be on campus together for a year.
“The coaches there, the players, the situation – it was the best situation for me,” said Davis, who popped a week after visiting campus Aug. 5 for UMD’s second fall-camp practice. “Being close to my family was big too, and now my parents and friends can all see me play. And Sean being there, it’s a chance to play with my brother too.
“I called Coach [Mike] Locksley actually, because he had talked to my head coach earlier [Aug. 12] and [my coach] told me to give him a call. So I called Coach Locks and he put me on the phone with Coach [Randy] Edsall. I told Coach Edsall I was ready to be a Terp, and he was really excited. He wants to get me back up there just to go over a few things and meet everyone again.”
Although several of Davis’ other options had filled up their linebacker slots, the St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes product insisted Maryland was at the forefront all along. He said he just wanted to go through the recruiting process and see what other schools had to offer before ending the ordeal altogether. After all, he said, you only get to go experience it once.
“I just really wanted to see all the schools that recruited me and just compare them all. I really just wanted to go through the process and see what everybody was about and be sure I made the right decision,” said Davis, who will try to see College Park again this summer but may have to wait until the fall when he takes his official. “And honestly, NC State was pretty much tied with Maryland, because [NCSU] had great facilities and a really nice program. But Maryland was a little more devoted to me, and they really wanted me there, so I went with the program that really wanted me in the program.”
Eliminate the legacy factor, and Davis would have still had the Terps sitting pretty. The chance to play for defensive coordinator Brian Stewart and inside linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski; the city-like campus; the Big Ten move; those new facilities the school is building -- it all hit home.
And speaking of home, Maryland was, in fact, home.
“To be near my parents, and for them to see me play, that played a big role,” Davis said. “They get a chance to see a lot of Sean’s games at Maryland, and now they’ll be able to see us both, so that was something I took under consideration. And it’s a great opportunity to play in the Big Ten. That’s one of the top conferences in college football. That was another big factor for me, and I liked the facilities, the new indoor facility they have planned – that should be real nice when that’s built.”
Davis’ relationship with the staff factored in as well. Area recruiter Lyndon Johnson made inroads during the evaluation period and continued his persistent push in the following months. Although Maryland was pursuing other linebackers like Tremaine Edmunds (Dan River/Ringgold, Va.), another legacy recruit who committed to Virginia Tech, and may still be after outside linebacker Amir Ealey (Coatesville, Pa.), Johnson apparently let Davis know how much the Terps wanted him.
“Coach Johnson and me were really close. We talked all the time about anything,” Davis said. “He came down to my school, and he treated me and my family really well when we visited. He’s a really good guy.”
While at the one-day camp, he had a chance to work with Johnson and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, as well as meet head coach Randy Edsall. Then, during his campus visit Aug. 5, Davis reconnected with the staff, spent the majority of his time with Keith Dudzinksi and watched how the latter worked with the current Terps, which, for all intents and purposes, resonated with the D.C.-area native.
“To be quite honest, that last practice I saw sold me on Maryland,” Davis said. “Just watching how Coach Dud worked with the guys, I think he’s a great coach and I can learn a lot from him. He’s really attentive, he’s upbeat and he gets a lot out of his players.
“And just the whole staff and how they ran the practice. It was a lot of intensity, not much downtime, and they got a lot done. I had a feeling after that that I’d like to play at Maryland and be part of that defense.”
Maryland’s academics were a main selling point for Davis. Not only did he appreciate Edsall’s education-oriented message, but he was especially impressed with the school’s engineering program. Davis spoke to several academic counselors and professors and decided he could excel both on the field and in his intended major at UMD.
“I do eventually want to do engineering, but my first year I think I’m going to take some core classes to get my GPA up. But then after that I hope to get into Maryland’s engineering school,” Davis said. “It’s one of the best programs out there, and that’s something that I really liked about [the Terps]. Coach [Randy] Edsall is all about academics and getting a degree, so that was something I looked at pretty hard.”
And then there’s that whole sibling factor. Davis said his older brother was one of the first people to know about his commitment, and the two spoke shortly after the St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes product popped.
“Sean he was really excited for me and said he’s really happy we’ll be going to the same school,” Davis said. “He wasn’t really a huge factor for me, and he never really pushed me, but he definitely did say great things about Maryland. He loves it there and he said I would too.”
The Davis brothers have a fairly close relationship, and the two have been competing and training together since they were youngsters. Isaiah Davis grew up playing football, baseball and wrestled, while Sean took to football and baseball.
“Even though Sean is a few years older, we always worked out together and competed with one another,” said Isaiah Davis, who mentioned that he speaks to Sean a couple times each week. “We played football and baseball together, and then I was a wrestler too. In [youth football] Sean actually played some quarterback and I was a running back, so we were in the same backfield together. And now it’s cool because we’ll be on the same defense together for a year.”
Indeed they will. Although he said UMD originally recruited him for outside linebacker, Davis will apparently line up at the weak-side MO spot, which basically means he’ll be dropping back and defending in space, the role currently occupied by LA Goree. In fact, he’s playing more of MIKE role in high school this season, so the transition to college football should be fairly seamless.
“I’m really excited about the MO. I’ve never really played that spot before, but I think it’s a good spot for me,” Davis said. “I’m fast, I can cover, I have good agility and really good strength, and I think that combination will be good for [the MO]. I’ll have to work on my feet and my coverage, but I’ll get there. I’ll be ready.”
Davis, though, did acknowledge there’s a possibility he could explore other institutions should offers materialize down the road. But he said that’s only because “you can never say never,” and he doesn’t want to be known as one of those recruits who says they’re “100 percent sold” and then have to back out of their pledge for various reasons.
“But I think I’m done with the process. I’m really excited about Maryland right now,” Davis said. “I’m excited to join the Terps family and make an impact on the defense.”
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