One on One with Kenny Davis
Ever since Steve Spurrier arrived at South Carolina, the Gamecocks have placed an increased emphasis on recruiting top talent along the defensive line, and that trend has continued into the 2008 recruiting class. The Gamecocks had targeted nearby lineman Kenny Davis as one of their top priorities in this year's class dating back to last season, and after quietly favoring the Gamecocks for several months, the 6'4", 295 pound trenchman pulled the trigger and committed to USC over the weekend.
"It was most definitely the atmosphere. I felt like I connected with all the players and coaches, and I just feel like South Carolina's the best place for me," said Davis. "(The opportunity to play for Steve Spurrier) was a big factor. Steve Spurrier's a great coach, and he chose South Carolina because he believes they can win a national championship."
Davis, who chose the Gamecocks over offers from major programs like Virginia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina, Stanford and others, also felt comfortable with his South Carolina recruiter, Brad Lawing, who will be his position coach at USC.
"I found out he's a great man. He's not going to play any tricks on me or anything. He's going to tell me how it is, and that's what I respect. I find that to be a good quality in a person, and I'd love to be coached by Coach Lawing. The great thing about it is that my position coach is actually the coach that recruited me. I can talk to him about anything, and he'll have the answer for me right there."
According to Davis, he's now looking forward to getting to know South Carolina's other 2008 commitments on a more personal level.
"I've gotten to know Jay Spearman from Greenwood a little bit. I met him on a couple recruiting trips, and we got to talk to each other a little bit. I'm going to try to get up to South Carolina when some of (USC's other commitments) are up there, and try to get to know them a whole lot better."
As is often the case with a powerhouse high school program like Newberry, the Bulldogs will feature another very highly touted prospect in wide receiver J.J. Suber in the class of 2009, and Davis believes that South Carolina now has the inside track to land his star teammate.
"J.J. said that he wanted to go where I went if they offer him, so if South Carolina offers him, I think that he'll probably go there," said Davis. "He's a physical wide receiver that's pretty fast and can go up for it. I think his vertical is a 37 (inch) or something like that, and he runs a 4.5 forty. He weighs around 225 and is 6'3". He's a good receiver."
Now that Davis is officially a Gamecock, he's looking forward to attending several of USC's home games this fall, and he believes Carolina is in for a special season.
"I'm going to try to make it to as many (home games) as I can this year, and I'll take J.J. up there with me to see if he likes it. I'll take my parents up there and everything. It'll be fun," said Davis. "I think it's going to be a cinderella season. It's going to be one of those seasons where everyone expects them to be so young, but I think they'll jump in there and have a great year this year."
Davis, who said he bench presses 405 pounds and squats 500, played a key role in leading Newberry to the 2A State Championship Game last season, and he described what type of player he is on the gridiron.
"I'm one of the type of players where I'm pretty much stronger than everybody I go up against right now. I have long arms so I can push them off me and see where the ball is and get to it. I'm pretty quick also," said Davis. "I'm a leader on the defensive line. When I get down there, I like to get crunk and get them all wanting to play harder. Whenever I make a big play, everybody likes to compete and try to make another big play."
However, while Davis is a dominant force on the high school level, he realizes that he must continue to work hard in order to be successful in the rigors of the SEC.
"I'm still trying to get to be quicker in everything. I'm trying to be a better player at pretty much everything. Even though everybody says I'm pretty good, I still want to get better at everything and be the best player I can be."
Davis, who is also a star basketball player for Newberry, said he models his game after another two-sport standout that played his college ball in the Carolinas.
"When I play, I'd have to say Julius Peppers is one of my role models. I try to be as explosive as he is and get back in the backfield and make plays."
When Davis enrolls at South Carolina, he knows he'll be surrounded by quality players on the defensive line, and he has already gotten the opportunity to know a couple of his future teammates.
"I played against Cliff Matthews last year in the State Championship, and we got to know each other a little bit. I know how he plays, and I know he's a very talented player. (Eric Norwood) is starting for them this year, and I know he's a great player. I got to talk with him about how it is to play on the team what to expect when I get up there."
With his recruitment behind him, Davis is now turning his full attention toward his senior season and is aiming to lead Newberry back to Williams Brice Stadium for another crack at the state championship.
"I want to be the best leader I can be and lead my team back to the state championship. I also want to play in some of the all-star games around here and just play as well as I can and get the people around me to play better."
Davis, who said he's firm in his commitment to the Gamecocks, closed by sharing an enthusiastic message for the South Carolina fans.
"I hope that I'll be the next big thing at South Carolina, and I'm looking forward to playing underneath Steve Spurrier. I think that South Carolina is the greatest team in the world right now, and I'm happy to be a Gamecock."
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