Walking Tall, Talking Vols

He's a highly regarded, very athletic, physically tough, west coast linebacker who happens to be a relative of legendary Tennessee lawman Sheriff Buford Pusser, and he's California dreaming of the day when he'll lay down the law as a defensive enforcer in the predatory SEC.

If John Michael Davis realizes that dream on Rocky Top he would have scripted the perfect Hollywood ending to a pulsating, albeit implausible, screen play. However as fanciful as this story line sounds it's not a work of fiction; so far from it that it just may become reality. And not television reality, but life-imitating-art type of realism we find so fascinating to follow and bear witness to.

Our protagonist (and John Michael Davis is his real name) will be a senior this fall at Santa Margarita Catholic High School located in Santa Margarita, Calif., near San Francisco. A diverse athlete, who has played running back, wide receiver, safety, linebacker and quarterback in three seasons as a starter for the Titans, is listed at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, and runs a 4.59 time in the 40.

His father, John Davis, is his high school's strength and conditioning coach which explains why John Michael is accomplished in the weight room. He reports a 325-pound bench press, a 335 power clean and a 515-pound squat. He also shines at combines posting a 4.1 shuttle, a 10-foot standing broad jump and a 34-inch vertical leap.

He is currently ranked No. 10 among the nation's strong linebacker prospects and was named a top 100 prospect overall in the Class of 2009 by Scout.com. As a junior, he played linebacker and finished with 80 tackles and an interception despite missing a couple of games with an ankle sprain.

As a sophomore he started at safety, wide receiver and played back-up quarterback although he did start at linebacker vs. Mission Viejo in the state quarter finals. He also plays in every phase of special teams. He finished the year with 52 tackles and four interceptions, On offense he gained 166 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown and caught 14 passes for 169 yards. Against Los Angeles Dorsey High School he rushed for 100 yards with a touchdown and intercepted two passes. Against Edison in the CIF Western division semifinal he had five solo tackles, one INT and two forced fumbles.

Davis was also a two-way starter as a freshman, playing safety and corner on defense as well as wide receiver on offense. He's certainly capable of playing more than one position in college but most coaches see him as an outside linebacker.

"When you look at the prototypical linebacker that plays major college football, he fits that profile," Titan head coach Mike Jacot told Steve Wilfong of Irish Eyes.com. "That's really the bottom line. He's big, fast and physical. Those are the things that standout, and what the recruiters see on the film. And he passes the eyeball test."

Plenty of coaches have made the trip to Santa Margarita to get a firsthand look at Davis. Among the schools to express strong interest are UCLA, Alabama, Florida, Michigan Norte Dame, Texas, Tennessee, Penn State, Nebraska and Southern California. UT offensive line coach Greg Adkins is scheduled to make a stop at the high school in May.

"They're showing interest right now," Davis told Inside Tennessee on Tuesday. "The recruiting process is exciting just getting to meet so many coaches. I'm open to anywhere Tennessee would be really cool. Distance isn't a factor at all. I'd love to go to Tennessee and play in the SEC. I have a lot of interest in doing that."

To this point only New Mexico has been forthcoming with an offer to Davis, but it only appears to be a matter of time before there's a long line of recruiters ready for him to sign on the bottom line.

For the record John Michael Davis is a cousin of the late Buford Pusser of Walking Tall fame. Davis still has a lot of family living in the state, and is hoping to make a decision on a school before his senior season gets underway.

The timing could be good for Tennessee to swoop in and swipe a commitment from this talented linebacker who doesn't need to swing a big stick to put the hurt on opponents.

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