Emerging Enrique

After a couple of seasons of feeling his way around and getting his bearings righted, Rebel RB Enrique Davis went back to the basics, his basics, and emerged at the end of spring training as a threat for the Ole Miss offense. Read about it inside.

If there's one thing the hoopla over recruiting has taught us, as fans, it's to expect too much too soon from some players in the transition from high school/prep school to the SEC.

Amidst the hype of recruiting, it's easy to assume greatness and discard all the other factors surrounding actually producing on the SEC level.

Some take to college ball like a famished dog to a sirloin, while others flop around like a fish out of water. And all points in between.

As Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt says, "You can see potential and gauge athletic ability, but you can't predict how long it will take individual players to adjust to a higher level of competition."

Thus, the continuing saga of junior tailback Enrique Davis.

You undoubtedly remember his recruitment and the euphoria surrounding his decision to be a Rebel after originally declaring for Auburn but being sidetracked a year out of high school to go to Hargrave Military School.

Most believed instant stardom at Ole Miss was a given, inevitable. After all, he was a four-star recruit and described as "can't miss" by different recruiting services.

Enrique Davis

And our appetite grew when, as a true freshman, he ripped off a long run against Alabama, only to settle into the backwash created by fellow freshman Brandon Bolden, Cordera Eason and Dexter McCluster the rest of the year.

More of the same ensued his sophomore year (2009), with Enrique registering decent, but not great, results and again being in the wake of the mercurial McCluster and the versatile Bolden.

Toward the second half of spring training, however, Davis had his awakening, if you will.

Even though he doesn't describe it in such dramatic terms, it was as if the light came on.

"It's a big change from high school or prep school to the Southeastern Conference," said Enrique. "I had to learn the game. You don't really worry about the little things in high school, but on this level the little things make all the difference, the difference between being productive and not being in the lineup.

"A lot of things started coming together for me, a lot of little things started to click and I got a lot of things down that were holding me back before. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm getting there and making steps forward seem more natural and not such a struggle now."

Learning his assignments were not a major issue. Carrying them out, however, was a different story.

"You have to work at the things that you are unfamiliar with. You have to study and listen to your coach. You have to take what he says to heart because he knows what he is talking about," Davis continued. "I never had to block before. When I was asked to block in high school, I could just drop my shoulder and knock people down. That does not work in this league.

"The defenders in this league are taught how to take advantage of any weakness in your blocking technique with various moves."

The magnitude of the tailback's protection/blocking responsibilities admittedly caught Enrique off guard.

Enrique Davis

"I was doing real good when I first got here running the ball, but when it came time to block, the coaches had to put the brakes on my playing time because I wasn't getting it done. To be honest, I never looked at blocking as a big part of the game, but I saw quickly how big it was as soon as I got here," he continued.

"To play tailback on this league, you have to be able to do everything, not just run the ball. I've always been able to run the ball, but the rest of it was new to me and it took me some time to get it all down."

The lack of knowledge in the "other" aspects of playing tailback also affected his running ability, as he explains.

"I had to learn to be patient and I had to learn to trust my offensive line more. When I first got here, I was too anxious and didn't have enough faith in the OL to let things develop," Davis explained. "It takes patience to allow things to develop and to develop the timing the play calls for. I didn't have that patience and had to learn to play a different way."

Enrique said there was a point where frustration set in, but then some things started clicking - in the nick of time - that helped his confidence and his development.

"You are not human if you don't get frustrated, but you have to learn to wait your time, work hard, listen the to coaches and get better at every opportunity. Players develop differently, it's just part of it," he noted. "I knew it was about me and my development. I wasn't getting a raw deal from the coaches or anything like that - it was on me to get better."

With the boost he got from spring, Enrique gained momentum and confidence.

"I'm watching more film now and working harder than I ever have. I'm more relaxed and motivated. It helps when your coaches and teammates get in your corner and start noticing your improvement and production," said Enrique. "It's a good thing when people are behind you wanting you to do well."

Davis has one goal for his remaining two years as a Rebel and it's team-orientated.

"I've never been a part of a championship team and I want that badly. I want a ring," he stated boldly. "We have to get it, we have to keep working."

As for 2010, Davis has high hopes.

"The defense got the best of us for the first half of spring, but we bounced back. We know they are going to be good, so it made us feel good to start competing with them better at the end," he stated. "We are young on offense, but we have talent and we have a whole camp to get better before the season starts.

"We have a lot of faith in our defense. Now it's up to us on the offense to play to that same level. We believe we can do that."

Davis freely admits he's got more fine-tuning and polishing to do to be at his best, but he's seeing light now and feels he's in line to break out.

"Everyone wants to come in and live up to their hype or to prove they belong on this level," he closed. "Everyone reaches that goal on a different pace. Hopefully, my time is right around the corner."

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