From the time Tailback Enrique Davis put on an Ole Miss cap on Signing Day of 2008 after a tense recruiting battle with Auburn and Tennessee, the expectations for him were off the charts.
By the end of the 2008 season, Enrique had left a mark at the crowded running back position, but it wasn't the mark most were anticipating.
He ended up with 244 yards on 64 carries, good for a 3.8 yard average and three TDs, with a long of 62 yards early in the loss to Alabama.
Not a bad showing, by any gauge for a freshman, but he was, for all intents and purposes, the 4th tailback behind Cordera Eason, Dexter McCluster and fellow freshman Brandon Bolden.
"I wasn't disappointed. I was just a freshman and I got here late in the summer, which put me behind some," he explained. "We have a lot of really good backs. I wasn't the only good back who didn't get a lot of playing time."
Now, with all of that competition returning, Enrique is looking for a way to increase his numbers, starting with the offseason program.
"I'm trying to get in better shape so I can keep my wind," said the personable Davis. "I'm also doing what everyone on the team is doing - trying to get faster, bigger, stronger and get better in knowing my plays. I feel I have gotten more flexible, which I needed. The squat work we did and flexibility drills we did have loosened me up some, but I want to keep working on that."
Enrique currently weighs 221 pounds. He played last year at 217.
"As long as I stay between 215 and 225, I will be fine," he said.
Davis is excited about spring training starting up when the team gets back from spring break. March 27th is the official start date for spring ball.
"I'm ready to put the pads on. If you are a football player, there's nothing like that contact and the excitement of the game, even if it's just practice" he stated. "Spring training and practice is where you earn your playing time.
"The guys who practice the best and work the hardest off the field learning their plays are the guys who will play. It's up to me to get it done. The coaches watch everything you do in practice. If you practice well, you are going to get a chance in the games. If you don't, you can't be disappointed if you don't play."
Enrique said his biggest challenge for spring will be to become a more complete back.
"When it comes to running the ball, I am fine, but you have to be able to do everything," he noted. "One, you have to know your plays inside and out. Two, you have to be able to pass protect, which I had never had to do before. Three, you have to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield. Four, you have to be able to read defenses.
"I came in here as someone who had never been asked to do much of anything except run the ball, so I had a lot to learn to be a complete back. I'm still learning."
After practices last season, Enrique would stay late to work on his receiving skills, which were somewhat suspect when he first arrived on campus.
"I made a big improvement with my hands. I needed to," Davis added. "On this level, every day you have to do something to get better. If not, you are going to fall behind. I don't intend to fall behind."
Like everyone on the team, Enrique looks forward to the 2009 season, but he's not a poll watcher.
"We have the same expectations we did last year - to play hard every snap of every game," he added. "If you start getting into rankings and all that, it can throw you off and take your eye off the main goal.
"I think we are in a different position where our opponents will be aiming for us more. We didn't get much credit last year, but people know how good we can be now so we have to be on our toes and be ready for it."
Starting spring training, Enrique has an uphill climb, listed behind rising senior Eason and fellow sophomore Bolden. And that's not including the certainty that rising senior McCluster will get some TB carries as well.
But he believes in his ability to make a bigger impact in 2009.
"You have to prove yourself everyday on this level. That is my intention," he closed.
Enrique Davis -
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