SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 14

The Pony Stampede staff will be at every SMU fall camp practice this month and will provide exclusive stories, videos, and observations. Today we reflect on Day 14.

Davis Adds New Meaning To The Term Brotherhood

By Beionny Mickles

Ja'Gared Davis doesn't just see the members of the SMU football team as teammates, colleagues, acquaintances, or even friends- to him they are his brothers. Davis, who is coming off of another accomplished year at outside linebacker, says that this year he plans to step his game up to never before seen heights; not just for himself, but for his family.

"I'm trying to develop my game to a whole ‘nother level. Not only to help me out but to help my team out. I'm a senior, I'm a leader so that's a part I want to take upon myself to help my team out," the second team All-C-USA linebacker said. "That's just the mentality that you've got to have. That's the way I was brought up. This is my brotherhood right here so I put it all on the line for them because I know they're going to do the same for me."

Davis, who earned national recognition for a monumental performance against UTEP last year tallying eight tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, three pass breakups, and a forced fumble and recovery for a touchdown, says that he was able to have such an effect not just because of his physical ability but also an extensive amount of time and preparation.

"I'd say it's a combination of it all because you've got to prepare. We prepare all week, Monday through Friday and Saturday is payday," Davis said. "We grind in the weight room, in meetings, and watching film so we can be prepared to get that big win on Saturday."

Davis says that in order for the Mustangs to earn big paychecks on Saturdays this season, it's going to all start up front. Davis believes that the energy that the front seven brings each game will set the tone for the entire team.

"Our play up front basically dictates the whole game," Davis said. "If we play fast, physical, hard-nosed to the ball the whole game then there isn't too many teams that can stop us from doing what we want to do."

Although Davis has been a force up front by himself, he has been paired with one of the top performing linebackers in the conference in teammate Taylor Reed. Davis says that having the opportunity to play next to Reed, who is actually his younger cousin, has been an honor.

"It's amazing," Davis said. "I couldn't ask for a better player. I wouldn't even want to trade him out for Patrick Willis one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Our bond is something serious. It's a pleasure, and I've been honored to play next to him for these past four years."

Having a chance to play against some of his teammates on the offensive side of the ball has made the defense much faster and season ready. He believes that having to defend against guys like Garret Gilbert with his ‘pin-point' accuracy and Darius Johnson, whom he thinks is one of the best wide receivers in college football, has prepared the Mustangs to have one of the best defenses in the nation.

"It gives us that edge because it shows us what we need to expect come game time so we know it and we can react to it way faster," Davis said. "Honestly, I'm looking for top ten. That's what I expect out of our defense. I know we can do it and I know our ability we've just got to step up and make plays."

With Davis being a senior and coming off back-to-back impressive seasons and the frequent visits from NFL scouts at Mustang practices, Davis could have a shot at taking his game to the next level but for right now he's focused on his brothers and the upcoming season for which he says, "The sky is the limit."

"That's every players dream to play at the next level but I'm developing my game first to help my football team out, my brotherhood, because the league is not promised to everybody," Davis said. "I'm just trying to grind hard out here for them and if the league presents itself then I will try to take advantage of that opportunity."

Video: Q&A with OL Ben Gottschalk

Henderson Getting Back In Groove After Missing Last Season

By Billy Embody

Junior linebacker Brandon Henderson is one of the most excited Mustangs to be back on the field. Henderson's battle with legal troubles the last two years has concluded, and he has now returned with his brothers on the field.

"I mean it's really a true blessing. It's unreal to actually be able to live the dream again," Henderson said. "To be able to come back and refocus and be with the team, be with your brothers, get that bonding experience again, all that good stuff."

Being back on the field again is something Henderson will not take lightly.

"I am extremely ecstatic to be back out here. I take everyday seriously because it can be taken away from you that quick," said the 6-foot-2, 230-pound outside linebacker.

Being away from the field for so long had the coaching staff wondering if there was going to be a long adjustment period for Henderson to regain his form. But that hasn't been the case.

"Coach thought I was going to have a pretty significant drop off since I haven't played in basically two years," Henderson said. "I came back in and really I don't want to say it was a piece of cake, but it was pretty easy to get back things back underneath me."

Henderson played on special teams as a freshman and came to SMU with star senior linebackers Taylor Reed and Ja'Gared Davis. Henderson has seen the two take a big leadership role on the defense since their freshman year.

"They are extremely good guys. I came in with them so we have a great bond. They're vocal leaders and they're loud," Henderson said. "They get the defense ready to go. Being seniors, that's what they got to do. It's their last go-around so they got to get us ready because we've got to play hard for them."

With all the talent on SMU's roster, Henderson is excited and has high expectations for his junior season.

"Just to be back out here. Just to see the atmosphere. Just to get gameday experience, the bonding with your brothers and the night before the game," Henderson said about the first game against Baylor.

Henderson's experience and size on special teams will be a welcome addition for the Mustangs this year. After his past troubles, Henderson will take every opportunity to do whatever he can to get back to his old form.

Day 14 Observations

- The defense worked exclusively on pass rushing moves for a majority of the individual time.

- Bob Palcic was especially vocal today at practice as the offensive line struggled during the team portion of practice.

- Taylor Reed was back on the field after being out with a hamstring injury.

- Blake McJunkin and Reed rode the bikes during team conditioning session.

- Stephen Nelson, Cody Worthen, and Derek Longoria did not practice today

- K.C. Nlemchi was out of practice today with his arm in a sling

- Keenan Holman caught a nice ball over the middle in traffic today against the scout team

- Garret Gilbert had a solid day overall but threw a few poor balls. A couple balls were overthrown and one was underthrown to Darius Johnson who came back for the ball and caught it over the top of Keith Robinson

- Brandon Henderson practiced with the second team today and looked solid

- Gehrig Dieter made the play of the day beating Chris Parks up the sideline deep for a touchdown after both of them were being physical throughout the running of the route

- June Jones gave some praise to Der'Rikk Thompson after he went up and got an underthrown ball over the safety saying "Nice Job 7! Way to go up and get it."

- NFL scouts were present at practice today, the Raiders, Panthers, and Redskins were all in attendance

- Ryan Smith grabbed an interception thrown by Neal Burcham in the middle of the field and almost got another that was thrown high by Gilbert

- Garrett Krstich who worked with the scout team offense, made a couple of nice throws on the first team defense including a nice ball over the middle to AJ Buffini. He also drew senior Spike Davis offsides with the hard count

- Randall Joyner came out of a pile limping but stayed in the scrimmage and seemed to be ok

- Jeremy Gray got a bit of a tongue lashing from the coaches today for not coming back to the ball

- Keith Robinson looked pretty good in coverage coming up with some nice plays against Der'rikk Thompson on the outside

- With Nelson out, Dieter moved back to the left side behind Thompson in a second string role

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