COLLEGE PARK, MD -- Terps sophomore linebacker Isaiah Davis doesn't have to look far for motivation these days.
Or any day for that matter.
Growing up the kid brother of former Terps star defensive back Sean Davis, now a rookie starter in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was plenty of 'alpha-male' going around in the Davis household.
"I was not surprised Sean [grabbed] a starting job in his first year," Isaiah Davis said of big bro.' "He has always had that 'mad-dog' aspect to him ever since we were kids."
Davis' brother tweets and sends him daily advice, from little things like stretching techniques to how much film to watch.
But it's that streak of 'alpha' in each of them that had Isaiah Davis ascending the Terps' depth chart at linebacker this spring, what with last year's starter, Shane Cockerille, sitting the spring to focus on his books.
"Sometimes he tells me even to not watch too much film," Isaiah Davis quipped, "so you don't overthink too much. As well as things like being patient in the box but always play fast and play strong."
Davis was running with the first-team all spring, elevating with Cockerille sitting (he also missed the bowl game). New JuCo arrival Nick Underwood was running second team.
Hopefully the senior and Terps leading tackler out of Gilman will be back fully by the fall. Meanwhile, Davis has made the most of his spring opportunity after seeing back-up time last year as a freshman on defense and special teams, where he soon got a reputation as a downhill thumper, though his technique needed work.
"I think [I improved technically] a lot since then, but this year mostly my eye work, my eye control," he said. "I definitely had the speed and power last year, but I feel I would lose my leverage because I was trying to do too much. So I feel like this spring I wanted to calm down, focus on my technique, and basically slow down so I could play faster."
Davis said he likes the look of the veteran Terps' LBs corps, which has seen seniors Jermaine Carter and Jalen Brooks take their games to the next level, D.J. Durkin said this month. Davis tied for the team lead in tackles in Saturday's Spring Game with 3.5 stops.
"I feel like we have one of the deepest units on the team now. I feel like we can put in any two linebackers to start for us. We have taken huge strides this spring, and will continue this summer and fall," Davis said.
Davis is up to 240 pounds, and looking back as well on maturity lessons learned last year at PSU, when he got in a scrape with scrappy/oft-instigator PSU kicker Joey Julius. He was tossed from the game, and Durkin suspended him for the next contest. Instead of sulking, he has used it to gain inner strength, he said.
"Just maturity, and just knowing the situation," Davis said in looking back at his rookie gaffe at Happy Valley. "So yeah, I could have said I didn't think the play was over and all, but...but I just needed some time to mature and get my head on straight."
On the spring game performance April 22 in the rain, and the play of the defense, he said:
"I think we were stronger, both up front and at linebacker, and the secondary, they played real well. And I think we will be more aggressive this year, as we have grown and now we can recognize plays before they happen better now. So before the offense has a chance to do it we can see what they are about to do. That has made us a better group."