When you ask around the Spartan football team about fifth-year senior outside linebacker Ed Davis, you’ll hear some high-praise from his teammates.
Athlete. Freakish skills. Hard-hitter. All are adjectives that teammates have used to describe him.
“Great linebacker, quick, explosive, he just keeps getting better and better,” said head coach Mark Dantonio when asked about Davis.
Fellow linebacker Riley Bullough said that he’s seen Davis do crazy things like jump over tailbacks and make a sack, among other athletic things.
“He’s a great player, he’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” Bullough said. “Last year, week in and week out, he’d almost have the most production points out of anyone on the defense. He’s such a great athlete, and he can make so many plays. The sky's the limit for Ed.”
Davis burst onto the scene for the Spartan defense late in the 2013 Rose Bowl season, where he played a major role as a third-down package linebacker, totaling 17 sacks and four sacks.
With the start of the 2014 season, Davis cracked the starting lineup at the SAM linebacker position, and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten after getting seven more sacks and 58 tackles.
Now a proven senior, Davis is one of the best players on the Spartan defense, but feels there is still a lot he needs to work on.
“Just better technique, taking on bigger linemen,” Davis said. “Just being in the right place at the right time every play, and not having any mental mistakes.”
Davis mentioned that going against the Spartans’ experienced offensive line, where he often finds himself matched up against Jack Conklin, has helped him improve immensely this spring.
Now that Davis is a senior, he’s developing into a role as a leader for the younger players on the roster. You won’t find Davis screaming at anyone on the field or in the huddle, and that’s just the way he is.
“I have my own way of leading,” Davis said. “I think I lead by example, my play on the field, and also in the film room, like one-on-one. I don’t have to grill somebody in everybody's face. I can talk to them one-on-one by themselves so they get the idea.”
Given that he has one season left playing for the green and white, Davis was asked whether he’s thought about his career for Michigan State coming to an end. He said he hasn’t thought about it yet, but he thinks it will hit him when the actual season comes.
“It amazes me how many people have came through here, and now it’s going to be my last time playing next year,” Davis said. “It’s just crazy that I’m going to be one of those people that’s going to be coming back seeing all of my younger teammates, and they’ll be in my shoes. So, that’s what I’ll think about after I’ve been gone.”
As for the goals Davis has for his final season in college, there are a couple particular goals that he has in mind.
“All-conference. I really wanted to make all-conference last year,” Davis said. “That’s still my goal this year, before I do anything, I’ve got to get all-conference. That’s what I’m aiming for.”
For the team goals, while he’s not buying into the “championship or bust” mentality for this team, he thinks it’s important that the team obtains their goals, and that goal is the same as always – to win a Big Ten championship.
“We’ve got to win a Big Ten championship before we go anywhere else, so that’s our goal now,” Davis said. “If we don’t win the Big Ten, we can’t go where we want to go. That’s what we’re working for right now, so that’s our plan.”