Exit Interview: Mike Davis

In this latest installment of our Exit Interview series, WeAreSC sits down with walk-on defensive tackle Mike Davis to talk about his career both on and off the field at USC.

Thanks, Mike, for meeting with us today.

My pleasure.

How did you end up coming to SC? Were you looking at any other schools?

Yeah, I was looking at Portland State, Colorado State, UCLA, and a lot of the Division 1-AA schools.

What made you decide on USC?

It was a perfect fit for me. Not only was the football team doing well, in addition, they had my major, business. They have a good business school, although I ended up changing my major to accounting. Also, my mom was kind of sick at the time and I wanted to stay in state.

How is your mom?

She's cool. She's getting better.

You transferred here from Saddleback College, and chose to transfer as a walk-on, despite scholarship offers from other schools. Talk about your recruitment.

I was actually being recruited as an actual recruit out of high school, but I kind of messed up with my grades, and so I went to Saddleback. When I got to Saddleback, I got a couple of injuries, but my grades improved, so I was still able to get in to USC, so I chose to come in as a walk on here than at the other schools that were offering scholarships. I was offered scholarships by a lot of east coast, all the Division 1-AAs, Bucknell, and Liberty, but I was pretty solid on USC. The way I saw it was, if something happened and I couldn't play football anymore, would I be happy there? And also my mom factored into my decision. I came on a leap of faith. I came close, almost made starting position one year when Coach Franklin was here. It was pretty much between me and Sedrick after Mike Patterson, and Sed just outplayed me. He is a great player. But I have no complaints. I had a great time here at USC.

How was the transition from Saddleback to USC? Did knowing fellow former Gaucho Ryan Powdrell help make it easier?

I met Ryan during a high school all star game where it was a north versus south. We played together at Saddleback and so it did feel more comfortable knowing Ryan was on the team. Here at USC, football practice is pretty intense and pretty quick. Saddleback was pretty easy, it wasn't as structured as here. It wasn't that bad of a transition.

Talk about the benefits you have as a walk-on, outside of football.

Outside of football, we get a lot of help in progressing towards our degree from the university. The tutors help a lot. I also like the movie nights, especially when we got to see them before they came out. Will Ferrell came in and showed us his movies, including Talladega Nights. There are also the bowl game team gifts. Had we gone to the national championship game this past year, we would've gotten Playstation 3s. We got Xbox 360's and Ipods for being in the championship game. This year we got gift certificates to Best Buy. I went and got some PS3 games, because I still got my PS3 anyway. (Laughs.)

How are the walk-ons treated here at USC?

I think if you prove that you're as good as the scholarship players then you'll get that respect. I got treated nicely. We always had good competition. Me and Ryan Kalil had some great competitions, and also with Fred Matua, Deuce Latui, and Matt Spanos. I remember me and Fred got into a slight scuffle, but it was all part of competing, getting caught in the moment. (Laughs.)

Talk about the coaching staff.

I was here when Coach O was here. Coach Franklin came here a year later and I ended my career here with Coach Holt. They all have their own characteristics. Coach O is a "just do it" kind of guy. He'll show you once and expects you to get it done. Coach Franklin will talk you through you step by step. He's a talker. As for Holt, he has a little bit of a balance, he'll talk a lot, but is as intense as Coach O.

How have you developed as an athlete during your time here?

I definitely got bigger, faster, and stronger. When I first came in I weighed 290 lbs, but now I'm a good 315-320 lbs. I feel a lot more solid. You know Coach Carlisle, really, you have no choice but to get bigger, and faster, and stronger. It's a monarchy, it's not a democracy. (Laughs.) You do what you're told, and when you're told to do it. It's a great program. I have no complaints.

What are your favorite memories playing for USC?

I remember playing Stanford when Coach Franklin was here, and I came a second away from getting a sack. I played in a lot of games when Coach Franklin was here. I played in Stanford, Arizona, Arkansas, and some other games.

How about your favorite memories in practice?

I had a couple of cool hits. One time, I accidentally sacked Matt Leinart. The players didn't really trip, but the coaches chewed me out for that. (Laughs.) It was an accident. I was lined up against Deuce and I put a move on him and beat him, and we usually run by the quarterback but Deuce hit me in the back, which just sped me up right at Matt Leinart. I had a couple of good hits against Moody and Stafon. I almost had a cool one against Reggie when he was here. I'm sure everyone has seen what Reggie can do. When I thought I had him tackled, I blinked and I was on the ground and he was 50 yards away, making a touchdown.

What was your favorite class here at USC?

I would have to say Race and Class in Los Angeles. It is a sociology-type course that studies L.A. history and how race and class interplay, in events like the L.A. riots, the building of Dodger Stadium. Accounting 258 with Mr. Hopkins kind of made me decide to be an accounting major.

Favorite eating spot around campus?

Chanos. A lot of people with the team go there, guys like Chauncey Washington and Dale Thompson.

Who are your closest friends on the team?

Chauncey, Dale, LJ, Sedrick, Butch Lewis, Averell Spicer, and Dominique Wise.

What strengths would you take to the next level of football if the opportunity arises?

I would say I have good ball instincts. I need to work on my upper body strength. My lower body is fine.

Are you graduating this year?

Yes I am, with an accounting degree.

USC has one of the best accounting schools in the country.

Yeah, it's like number 3, I think.

So a career in accounting, then, after football?

Yeah, I'm signed with Deloitte and Touche, an accounting firm. I already signed with them, but they know about my NFL aspirations and they are accommodating that.

Congratulations, Deloitte and Touche is a top-notch accounting firm. What are you going to be doing there?

I'd be an ERS Consultant [Enterprise Risk Services Consultant]. We help bring companies in compliance with SOX [Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002], which occurred as a result of WorldCom and Enron. A lot of these Fortune 500 companies had to restructure. We check their business controls and make sure they are in compliance. We check the IT side of their accounting systems. I eventually want to get my CPA, be an entrepreneur. That's all part of my ten-year plan.

Did you know Mario Danelo?

Our lockers were right across from each other. He was a great dude and always made you laugh.

Tell us something about you that most people don't know.

I'd like to let fans know that USC football players are a lot more than just football players. I am in a program called 100 Black Men of USC, and we have a mentorship program within the community, with the young kids around the area. We recently partnered up with another group on campus called Rights of Sisterhood, and a fraternity. We had an event called "Evening of Soul" where we brought about 70 students on campus and we let them get to see what campus life is like. We held a panel, and the students got to ask us whatever they wanted, to help generate interest in college at a young age. I bring my younger cousins here to also show them what college is like, to generate interest. I know Thomas Herring looks out for his younger brothers and sisters. He brings them up here all of the time, to show them what college is like. We aren't just athletes, we have a consciousness of what is going on. We aren't just some dumb football players. (Laughs.)

Well said, Mr. USC Accounting Degree, headed to one of the biggest names in accounting. Any last words for the USC fans?

Thank you for all the love and support.

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