Davis Happy with his Opportunity

The Clemson RB was delighted when a 440 area code showed on his caller ID last week...

To Davis, it did not matter if he was chosen in the first round or the seventh round as long he was drafted. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound running back understands and appreciates the opportunity he has been given. So when he rolled up to the Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio Wednesday evening, he wasn't just happy to be there, he was ready to go to work.

"Jerry Butler was telling me that only one percent of the players that are on a college and high school roster will get drafted," Davis said. "It's an accomplishment to be on this level and to be working with some of the best players in the league at your position.

"You have to appreciate that first. I remember as a kid, and I dreamed about playing in the NFL, there were some that said I can't make it to the NFL. Now that I have been drafted by Cleveland, I have a lot kids out of Atlanta that I talk to from my high school believing. Now they are going to work harder to try and accomplish that goal."

Though Davis understands he has a hard road ahead to make the Browns, he also understands he has an advantage that some of the Browns' rookies do not. See Butler, who played wide receiver at Clemson from 1975-'78, is the director of player programs for Cleveland, while former Clemson running back Kevin Mack (1980-'83) is the assistant director for player development.

"Those guys are encouraging me every day to keep working hard and I'm kind of happy that I have Clemson guys here," Davis said. "They hear everything that is going on and they've give me a heads up on what I need to be doing to get that other player off the field.

"They also know the community so it's nice to be able to get some advice from those guys and how the community works and what I need to do… That's kind of big. Jerry Butler and Kevin Mack have been helping me out a lot. I can't thank those guys enough."

The Browns are banking that Davis will be just as productive or even more than the two former Pro Bowlers. Butler played seven seasons for the Buffalo Bills were he caught 278 career passes for 4,301 yards and 29 touchdowns, while starting in 80 of the 88 games he played in. Butler caught 57 passes for 832 yards and six scores to earn Pro Bowl honors in 1980. He was also the 1979 AFC Rookie of the Year.

Mack, who played nine seasons for Cleveland, was the 11th overall pick in the 1984 NFL Draft. The fullback had two Pro Bowl seasons (1985, '87) and rushed for 1,104 yards and 7 scores his rookie year. He finished his career with 5,123 yards and 46 touchdowns, while starting in 82 of the 99 games he played in.

"(Mack) is a guy that had experience playing in the NFL as a running back so I'm just looking to him for advice," Davis said. "If I can learn from him, I think I can go a long way."

As for what he hopes to do in the NFL, the Tigers second all-time leading rusher isn't thinking that far ahead. Instead, he's concentrating on learning first. He says the playbook he was given earlier this week is way bigger than anything he had at Clemson.

"It is way different than college," he said. "They do stuff real, real fast and they expect you to learn it fast. They put the plays in and they go over it probably one time and they want you to know it. There is a lot of studying and all that stuff. I think that it is very hard.

"(The playbook) is pretty thick for a minicamp. It's like a whole college playbook, but it's just for minicamp. They go over a lot of plays the first day and when you get on the field the next day, they expect you to know everything. I think that is a challenge, but if you want to be a big-time player and play in the NFL you have to be able to learn fast, especially if you are a rookie and you want to make the team.

"You better learn to make those plays fast."

In two weeks, Davis will enter his second minicamp, this time with veterans, and he can't wait to watch and learn from guys like fellow Douglass High School alum Jamal Lewis.

"One of my goals is that I want to learn from the veteran players. I want to sit back and see how they do things," Davis said. "I want to see how they stay at the top of their profession. You know, what is it like to play and stay in the NFL?

"I also want to show the coach that he can trust me. I want them to feel like they can throw me into any situation and I will be able to succeed."

But more than anything, he wants to show them that he is going to make the most of his opportunity because he knows not everyone gets the chance to live out a childhood dream.

"Now that I'm in the NFL, I want to work as hard as I can," Davis said.
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