On film, Deoundrei Davis can rarely be slapped with a lack-of-effort complaint. And when the rangy linebacker played in this past weekend's State 7-on-7 Championships, he was quick to point out that he wanted to keep that effort going.
"We've got to keep that fire, keep going, and just skunk people," Davis said. "We have the talent to go against anybody. I say that with pride. We can face the best of them. That's how I feel."
At the heart of that effort is Davis, a speedy linebacker who made plays on Day One both in closing out on short passes and knocking down throws over the middle. That he was able to make such an impact from a linebacker position — linebackers typically aren't factors in wide-open games that they can't use pads in — was impressive. But it also wasn't a shock for somebody who works so much at their craft, and who idolizes top NFL linebackers like Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis.
"Patrick Willis is just an overall freak of nature," Davis said. "He can do anything. And Ray Lewis, he's just a great leader, and he's a machine. That's how I want to play, like a machine. Just keep going through everything, keep pushing."
Lately, Davis said he's been pushing to improve his already impressive speed and agility.
"My acceleration is a big thing that I've worked on," Davis said. "I have that speed to stay with receivers, but that initial takeoff is what I've really worked on."
Davis said that skill set was important for what the Longhorns recruited him to do. Davis said Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said he would be a "true linebacker," but someone who could play an extra safety role in a nickel group, like current Longhorn linebacker Demarco Cobbs. It's a role Davis said he's excited to fill.
"The more positions you give me, the more responsibility you give me, the more you trust me, obviously, that's good," Davis said. "I'm going to put in the hard work, and I'm going to earn everything.
"My aggressiveness and my leadership are my biggest strengths," Davis said. "I feel like I can play with the best of them. You can put anybody out there, I don't care if it's Ray Rice, I'll stay with them. I'm going to try my best and play up to the level of my competition, if not better. Just overall my aggressiveness."
Davis has used those traits to emerge as one of the top linebackers in the state. But still, in a class that includes multiple players in the top-10 in the Texas state rankings, Davis can get a bit undersold at times.
"I don't pay attention to that," Davis said. "I don't mind if I'm under the radar. Half of my high school career I've been under the radar. That just makes me hungry."
Hungry for what, exactly?
"Make it to Dallas with my team: that's the main goal," Davis said. "There are individual goals too, but I put those second. My team comes first, and all I want is that ring."
Davis also hopes to get a ring at his college stop, and he'll enroll early to try and do his part. Davis said he just finished up two semesters of Algebra 2 this summer, and had three weeks left of English 4. Those classes should allow him to hit campus and be ready for spring ball.
"There are a lot of benefits to that," Davis said. "I'm excited about it."