Clemson University Tigers
Douglass High School
The hard driving, one-cut runner has had to share rushing duties most of his career, but it hardly affected his production level, as he seemed to thrive in that role. Davis would go on to start 43-of-50 games during his Clemson career, finishing as the school's second-leading rusher with 3,881 yards. That yardage total placed Davis ninth in Atlantic Coast Conference history.
Davis's 47 touchdowns on the ground established a new Clemson career-record and ranks second to Ted Brown of North Carolina State (49) on the ACC record list. He fell just one score short of tying the Tigers' all-time total touchdown rushing record, as his 49 rank behind Travis Zachery (50, 1998-2001) Only Wali Lundy of Virginia (52) had more total scores in a career by an ACC athlete.
Clemson has seen great success when Davis rushes for over 100 yards in a game, as the Tigers compiled a 13-1 record in those fourteen contests. His fourteen 100-yard rushing games are also one shy of the school record of fifteen by Raymond Priester.
At Douglass High School, Davis was rated the seventh-best running back in the nation and the 16th-best overall prospect in the state of Georgia by Rivals.com. He ranked fourth on Georgia's Super Prep All-Dixie team, earning All-American honors from that recruiting service. He received the Golden Helmet Award as the team MVP, as he gained All-State Class AAAAA first-team recognition as a senior and honorable mention as a junior.
Davis rushed for 2,389 yards and 28 touchdowns on 350 carries as a senior, twice gaining over 300 yards on the ground in a game. For his career, he amassed 7,339 yards and 80 touchdowns rushing. Heavily recruited by the Southeastern Conference universities, he turned down scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana State, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech to enroll at Clemson.
Davis made a huge splash in his first collegiate season. The Freshman All-American became the first Tiger to be named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year since linebacker Anthony Simmons in 1995. He ran for 879 yards on 165 carries (5.3 avg), ranking fourth in the conference.
He totaled four 100-yard rushing performances, the most ever by a Clemson freshman, as he scored nine times on the ground and caught nineteen passes for 152 yards (8.0 avg). What made those numbers even more impressive was that he played in the final four games wearing a cast to protect a bone fracture of his left wrist.
Davis continued to excel as a sophomore, as the All-ACC first-team pick tied the school season-record with seventeen touchdown runs, the fifth-highest total in league annals. He started all thirteen games, collecting 1,187 yards on 203 carries (5.8 avg) and 1,302 all-purpose yards. His 216 yards on the ground vs. Georgia Tech was the highest game total by an ACC runner in 2006.
In 2007, Davis was again selected to the All-ACC first-team, marking the first time a Tiger runner earned that honor in consecutive seasons since Terry Allen (1987-88). He also caught twelve passes, finishing the year with 1,128 all-purpose yards. He applied for the NFL Draft in January, 2008 but pulled his name out a few days prior to the deadline.
As a senior, Davis struggled early in the season, trying to overcome spring shoulder surgery. He still managed to become the first player in school history to lead the team in rushing four consecutive seasons. He ran for a career-low 751 yards with eleven scores on 171 attempts (4.4 avg) and caught fourteen passes for 123 yards, finishing his final year with 1,181 all-purpose yards.
2007 Worst Games Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Boston College
2006 Worst Games Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, South Carolina
Davis has a solid build with a muscular lower body frame, good thickness in his thighs and calves, good bubble, broad shoulders, tight waist and room on his frame to add at least another ten pounds of bulk.
Davis has decent initial quickness and timed speed, but it is his exceptional body control and balance in his running stride that really stands out. He keeps his pad level low to generate solid lower body power in attempts to break tackles. He builds to top acceleration and runs with a normal stride. He has adequate change of direction agility and does a good job of twisting and adjusting his body on the move. He doesn't have the breakaway speed to pull away from the pile, but his balance and strength let him run over and through the initial tackle when he keeps his pads down. When he tends to get erect and high in his stance, he can be pushed back through the rush lanes (tackled for a loss 17 times and stopped for no gain 13 times in 2008). He is more of a north-south runner than a shake-and-bake type, but is consistent in keeping his feet upon contact…
Davis is effective at locating and picking up the blitz. He shows good field vision and awareness running with the ball and is quick to locate the cutback lanes. He needs only normal reps to retain plays and is smart enough to comprehend a complicated playbook. He shows good football sense working back when the quarterback is pressured in passing situations. He has a natural feel for the rush lanes and shows the ability to adjust to game situations…GRADE-6.3
Davis is a quiet character with no known off-field issues. He is not considered a leader on the team, but is a good program type who will do what the coaches ask. That is why it was out of character for him to question his role on the team in 2007 and again earlier last year. He almost left for the NFL after 2007 due to his issues with the former staff not living up to their promises…GRADE-5.8
Davis is a tireless worker in games and practices. He will play with pain and performs with a consistently aggressive nature. He has good speed to elude, but gets most of his success by powering through initial tackles. He is the type that will lower his head to get extra yardage after contact than to look to run out of bounds. He is a durable player who remains focused on the field, even when not involved in the play…GRADE-7.3
Davis is a self-starter who knows what it takes to get the best out of his ability. He enjoys putting in extra hours in the weight room and spends time watching game film. He takes pride in his training and the coaches call him the most dependable player on the team. He does not need coaching structure or need to be pushed, as he will work hard on his own and always gives a consistent effort…GRADE-6.5
Davis comes out of his stance with decent initial quickness, but it is his balance and body control, rather than explosion, that helps him build to top speed through the holes. When he keeps his pad level low, he shows a good forward body lean through the rush lanes, but he does tend to get high in his stance at times, causing him to get pushed back through the creases, despite obvious leg strength to break tackles. He has good in-line lateral quickness and has that first step and lateral quickness to make second level defenders miss. He won't generate sudden movement to gain advantage, but does have decent snap quickness…GRADE-6.0
Davis is effective at varying his speed and setting up defenders with his moves rather than generating suddenness off the snap. He has a good short area burst, but not the sustained speed to threaten in the deep secondary. He can effectively gain valid yardage past the line of scrimmage, but it is more due to his balance and strength rather than explosion. He shows a strong stiff-arm to defeat the initial tackle, but lacks the wiggle and shake to elude. He can build to top speed nicely, but it is not enough to be considered a valid breakaway threat…GRADE-6.5
Davis has excellent balance, doing a nice job of squeezing through tight areas. He shows the vision to quickly recognize coverage and has a good feel for the defender and the power to run through his opponent. He has a natural feel for cutback lanes and the instincts to know when to redirect and bounce outside. He won't generate any special moves to create much space on his own, but has the leg drive to gain valid yardage on the move…GRADE-6.4
With Davis' body frame, power and running style, he is tough to bring down in man coverage. He does a nice job of lowering his shoulders, leaning forward and driving with his legs to break the initial tackle. He has the change of direction agility to redirect, but doesn't rely on his impressive pick-and-slide agility as much as he should. He shows good effort to keep his feet and adjust when navigating through tight areas, but his problems arise when he gets too high in his stance, as defenders can then attack his legs and bring him down. Still, he has the nimble feet to pick his way through trash and shows the awareness to let his blockers allow the play to develop. He is capable of anticipating the defender's moves and runs with good forward lean and strength to gain valid yardage after initial contact…GRADE-6.4
Davis has the agility to bounce to the outside. He won't win long distance races, but has enough of a functional initial burst to at least move the chains consistently (22 runs for ten yards or longer in 2008 and 103 for his career on 753 carries). He is not the most explosive when trying to reach and turn the corner, but has that natural vision to locate the short area's soft spots and clear lanes. He can accelerate some on his cuts, but is just adequate taking the ball long distances…GRADE-5.9
Davis doesn't have the "make you miss" moves in the open, but relies more on power and balance to gain yardage after initial contact. He is more comfortable as a straight-line, north-south runner rather than execute nifty moves to elude. He has the vision to adjust and the awareness to recognize coverage. He has functional lateral quickness, but it is rare to see him juke and disappear from the pile turning the corner. He is better off setting up tacklers and running off his blocks, as he has the leg drive, foot balance and hip snap to be more effective as a power back…GRADE-6.0
Davis's balance is evident by the power he generates consistently breaking tackles. Coming out of his stance, he keeps his pads down, getting the tough yardage through trash. But, he will get high in his stance attacking the second level and defenders are then capable of getting low to attack him at his legs, as he doesn't have the agility to side-step around the pile. His leg strength explodes into the defender on initial contact, letting him consistently break tackles. The only time he gets turned back is when he runs too tall through the creases or tries to get fancy by juking a defender along the perimeter. He is simply a classic "thumper" with the power to punish smaller opponents…GRADE-6.5
Tendency to Fumble
Davis did not have fumbling issues until his senior year. He has the large hands and strong upper body frame to protect the ball, but most of his fumbles (four) came when he failed to distribute the ball away from the defender when trying to bounce wide or when he got too erect punching the ball up the middle (ball was exposed). He just seemed to be a little careless running through traffic in 2008 (see The Citadel, Georgia Tech and Nebraska games)…GRADE-5.6
Davis has good reach and extension to catch away from his frame. He has good vision awareness and arm flexibility to get to the off-target throws and it is rare to see him use his body as a crutch to field the ball. He also demonstrates good concentration to look the ball in over his outside shoulder…GRADE-5.7
Davis has been used mostly on controlled routes, screens and dump-offs. He is not fast enough to be lined wide and not considered a threat to attack the secondary. He just won't be involved in complex patterns, but does a good job of reading defenses to settle in underneath. He needs to run sharper routes to be considered more than a safety valve receiver and must generate better hip snap to get in and out of his breaks cleanly than he has displayed…GRADE-5.5
Davis does not show much interest to face up when blocking. He generates a strong hand punch and solid placement to sustain, but needs to be more alert to stunts and blitzes in pass protection, as he absorbs more than delivers when blocking there. He is just not going to go out of his way to take on the defensive linemen or try to seek out second level defenders as a cut blocker…GRADE-4.9
KEVAN BARLOW-ex-Pittsburgh…Davis is a more physical inside runner than Barlow was, but both rely on power and balance to gain the tough yardage between the tackles. Davis is a decent short area receiver with the strength to consistently break tackles, but his timed speed is not going to see him win many foot races in the open. If you are looking for a breakaway threat, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a physical chain mover, Davis is that type.
Davis started 43-of-50 games at Clemson, as his 50 appearances set the school career-record for running backs, topping the 49 contests that Raymond Priester appeared in (1994-97)…Carried 753 times for 3,881 yards and 47 touchdowns…His 753 attempts are topped only by Priester's 805 on the school career-record list…His 3,881 yards also rank second in Clemson annals to Priester's 3,966 yards and placed ninth on the Atlantic Coast Conference all-time record chart…Ran for a school record 47 touchdowns, breaking the old mark of 41 by Travis Zachery (1988-2001)…Only Ted Brown of North Carolina State (49, 1975-78) ran for more touchdowns in conference history…Scored 294 points, ranking behind place-kicker Aaron Hunt (329, 2000-03), Travis Zachery (300) and place-licker Obed Ariri (288, 1977-80) on Clemson's career-record chart…Gained 4,642 all-purpose yards, surpassed only by receiver Derrick Hamilton (4,839 yards, 2001-03) on the school career-record list and rank 18th in ACC annals…Scored 102 points in 2006, tying Lester Brown (1978) for fifth on the school season-record list…His 1,187 yards rushing in 2006 placed sixth on Clemson's annual record book while his 1,064 yards in 2007 tied Cliff Austin (1982) for seventh on that list…Ran for 216 yards vs. Georgia Tech in 2006, the sixth-best game total in school history…His fourteen 100-yard rushing games are one shy of Raymond Priester's school career-record (the team lost just once when Davis ran for over 100 yards)…Became the first player in school history to lead the team in rushing in four seasons.
Played in thirteen games, starting the final twelve contests…Underwent shoulder surgery in early April after suffering the injury during a spring drills scrimmage in mid-March…
Led the team in rushing for a school record fourth time, as he gained a career-low 751 yards with eleven touchdowns on 171 carries (4.4 avg)…Caught fourteen passes for 123 yards (8.8 avg), as he amassed 1,181 all-purpose yards, an average of 90.85 yards per game…Turned the ball over twice on four fumbles, as Davis was tackled for a loss seventeen times and captured at the line of scrimmage for no gain on thirteen other rushing attempts…Produced 22 carries that gained at least 10 yards each, including eight for 20 yards or longer…Had 34 positive runs inside the red zone, including 18 on goal line plays…On 160 carries that did not produce touchdowns, it took more than one defender to tackle him on 65 of those rushing attempts (40.63%)…In addition to his eleven touchdown runs, he had twelve other rushing attempts that set up Clemson touchdowns and one that helped set up a field goal…Produced five first downs receiving and 40 more rushing…
Caught 14-of-26 passes targeted to him…Participated on 456 offensive snaps.
2008 GAME ANALYSIS
The Citadel…The Tigers started the season ranked ninth in the county, but were thoroughly embarrassed, 34-10, by the Alabama Crimson Tide on national TV. Tailback C.J. Spiller and backfield partner James Davis accounted for only 20 yards a week ago, while the Tigers finished with zero yards on the ground…A week later, Davis finished with 107 yards and a 38-yard score on just thirteen carries vs. The Citadel…Davis gained 24 yards on the Tigers first play. He started Clemson's scoring with his powerful 38-yard scoring romp…Davis' rushing touchdown with 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter was his 37th career rushing touchdown. In only the first quarter of today's game, he racked up 93 yards on 10 carries…Record Watch-Davis ranks first among active ACC players in career rushing yards, and is also first among active ACC players in rushing touchdowns (37) and total touchdowns (39)…He also moved up in Clemson's career touchdown responsibility list to sixth with 39 touchdowns.
South Carolina State…Against an overmatched opponent, Davis brought "Thunder" back to Death Valley. The senior tailback, the power part of Clemson's "Thunder and Lightning" backfield rushed for three touchdowns to lead the 23rd-ranked Tigers past South Carolina State, 54-0…The tailback's final season had gotten off to a slow start, as he had just one touchdown and averaged less than 52 yards a game coming in. Davis knew he needed to do more. "The coaches have been telling me all week I've got to be the one to set the tempo for this team," Davis said. "That's kind of what I tried to do." There was little the Bulldogs (2-2) could do to stop him…Davis had runs of 23 and 25 yards on Clemson's first series, which ended with his 1-yard touchdown burst…He added scoring runs of 5 and 1 yard as the Tigers opened a 30-0 lead by halftime…After Davis' opening surge, "I tried to light my guys up, try to do everything I can to bring excitement out of my team," he said. "Guys are improving week in and week out, and they showed it today. The offensive line especially improved; I'm so proud of those guys. I stayed patient, I knew my time would come; I've just got to keep working hard. They did some things that were unexpected, but we adjusted. There is always some stuff for concern, but I think we showed improvement."
Maryland…A defense that gave up 193 yards and two touchdowns in the first half to Clemson runners James Davis and C.J. Spiller, shut down those holes after halftime. Davis had a 38-yard touchdown run, gaining 126 yards on seventeen tries and Spiller a 35-yarder to build the lead. Clemson's defense also looked strong, limiting Scott to just 19 yards in the opening period. Davis and Spiller, the vaunted "Thunder and Lightning," got just 31 yards between them the final two quarters….Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen talked to the press after the game about stopping C.J. Spiller and James Davis, stating, "In the first half we were slanting a lot. We were playing more of a shade. We came back after halftime and played more of straight up defense. We tried to disguise our coverages because they were doing a good job of reading them. We took blocks one-on-one. Davis and Spiller are really good backs. All they need is a crease and they gain yardage."
Davis told the media, "We had a lot of penalties this game and they held us at the end. We still have some things to work on. We've got a bye week right now and we've got to regain momentum any kind of way. I'm disappointed in the loss, but we've got to move on to Wake Forest. We've got to be two-dimensional; we just couldn't get our offense together in the second half."…Record Watch-Davis' 38-yard touchdown run that put the Tigers on top 17-3 was the 41st rushing touch-down of his career, tying him with Travis Zachery for the Clemson career record…Davis rushed for at least 100 yards for the second time this season, reaching the century mark in the second quarter of Saturday's game. It is the 14th time in his career he has reached the 100-yard mark.
Boston College…Davis had a 23-yard touchdown run, and gained 52 yards on thirteen attempts, as his 23-yarder capped a 4-play, 80-yard first quarter series.
Duke…Davis totaled just 43 yards on nine carries, but found the end zone twice…He also had a 26-yard reception…Tailback C.J. Spiller broke around the right side for a 24-yard touchdown run to start the Tigers' scoring. It looked like he had wriggled free of several Blue Devils for a second-quarter score, but a review ruled him down at the 1. Davis finished the drive off a play later to put Clemson ahead 17-0…Davis added a second scoring run on a third quarter 3-yard carry…His performance prompted new head coach Dabo Swinney to say in the post-game press conference,
"James Davis ran his tail off today. He set the tempo early in the first quarter and ran hard all day long. He finished north-south all day long."…Record Watch-Davis' two rushing touchdowns gave him 46 total for his career, 44 rushing and two receiving. He is now just four touchdowns short of the Clemson overall career-record. Travis Zachery had 50 between 1998-2001.
South Carolina…Davis ran for three touchdowns to lift Clemson to a 31-14 victory, as he powered his way to his 47th, 48th and 49th career touchdowns, one away from the school record. He gained 91 yards on 24 carries and caught two passes for 17 yards…Fellow tailback C.J. Spiller had a dazzling 39-yard burst to set up Davis' first score from one yard out to end a 10-play, 85-yard possession…Spiller's juking, 39-yard run took it to South Carolina's 1 -- he got past three of the Gamecocks' best tacklers in linebacker Eric Norwood, safety Emanuel Cook and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn -- before Davis finished off the scoring drive. It took only three plays for the Tigers to capitalize, Davis rushing around the left side for a 20-yard score…Davis regained momentum for Clemson two series later with his 2-yard touchdown run…Record Watch-Davis recorded his third touchdown of day, and the 49th of his career at the 3:38 mark of the third quarter. It is the second game of the 2008 season in which Davis has scored three touchdowns, and the fifth game of his career. Earlier this season, he had three touchdowns against SC State. In 2007, he had four scores against North Carolina State, and in 2006, he had four touchdowns against North Carolina and three against Temple…Davis is now just one touchdown behind Travis Zachery's career record of 50 set between 1998-01. He already has the school record for rushing touchdowns with 47…His career total of 3,855 rushing yards is only 112 yards shy of breaking Raymond Priester's career rushing record…He also made the 42nd start of his career today, tying Raymond Priester for the Clemson record for most starts by a running back.
Nebraska (Gator Bowl)…Davis and safety Michael Hamlin both started their 43rd career games for Clemson today and established records in the process. Davis broke the record for games started by a running back. He and Raymond Priester held the previous record with 42…He closed out his career with 26 yards on twelve carries.
After earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team honors, Davis became the Tigers' first running back to be named first-team All-ACC in consecutive years since Terry Allen (1987,88)...He was Clemson's leading rusher for the third-straight year and became the first Tiger to lead the team in rushing three straight years since Raymond Priester from 1995-97...Ranked second in the conference with 1,064 yards and ten touchdowns on 214 carries (5.0 avg), as he started twelve games…Caught twelve passes for 51 yards (4.3 avg) and two scores…His total of twelve touchdowns ranked fourth in the ACC…Had five 100-yard rushing games, including three in the last six contests…Saw action in 566 plays… Fumbled twice, but Clemson recovered both miscues…Had 30 carries that gained at least 10 yards each, including seven for 20 yards or longer.
2007 GAME ANALYSIS
Collected 102 yards with a score on 41 attempts vs. Florida State in the season opener…
Rushed just seven times, but gained 68 yards with a touchdown in the Louisiana-Lafayette clash…Gained a season-high 166 yards on 24 carries, including a touchdown vs. North Carolina State, earning a game sticker from ESPN…Ran for two scores on 22 carries for 88 yards vs. Central Michigan…Rushed 29 times for 129 yards and a touchdown vs. Maryland and generated 118 yards and a score on just eight attempts vs. Duke…Carried 23 times for 122 yards vs. South Carolina…Totaled 72 yards with a touchdown on 23 tries vs. Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
All-ACC first-team choice, as he ranked third in the league with 1,187 yards and seventeen touchdowns on 203 carries (5.8 avg) while starting all thirteen games…Added 115 yards on six catches (19.2 avg) and averaged 100.15 all-purpose yards per game…Turned the ball over once on a fumble…His seventeen scoring runs tied a Clemson season-record and was fifth-most in ACC history...Led the conference and ranked 17th in the nation in scoring with 102 points…Ran for at least one touchdown in eight of the team's first nine games…Totaled 32 runs for at least ten yards that included twelve for 20 yards or longer.
2006 GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Ran for 93 yards and a touchdown on fourteen chances vs. Florida Atlantic and followed wit two scores on 24 attempts that produced 93 yards vs. Boston College…Added two more touchdowns on 19 runs for 87 yards vs. Florida State and rushed fifteen times for 95 yards and a career-high four scores vs. North Carolina…Followed with eleven attempts for 143 yards and a pair of touchdowns vs. Temple…Named Walter Camp Foundation National Player of the Week after tallying a career-high 216 yards on 21 runs that included two scores vs. Georgia Tech…Added 138 yards and three touchdowns on just nine tries vs. Temple…Showed his all-round abilities against South Carolina when he stripped the ball from defensive end Nathan Pepper near the goal-line after he intercepted a pass…Ran eight times for 53 yards and caught two passes for 13 yards, but turned the ball over on a fumble vs. Kentucky in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Became the first Tiger to earn Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year honors since linebacker Anthony Simmons in 1995…Added second-team Freshman All-American honors from Rivals.com…Ranked fourth in the league with 879 yards and nine touch-downs on 165 carries, as he participated in 366 offensive snaps…Set the Tigers season freshman touchdown record...Finished fourth on the team in receptions with 19 for 152 yards (8.0 avg)...Had four 100-yard rushing games, most by a Tiger first-year freshman...
Ran for at least 10 yards on 27 carries, including ten for 20 yards or longer…Fumbled once, but Clemson recovered the ball…Sat out the Temple contest after he suffered a wrist fracture vs. North Carolina State.
2005 GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Opened his career in explosive fashion, gaining 101 yards on nineteen tries, becoming the first Tiger to debut with over 100 yards rushing, doing it vs. Texas A&M…Scored twice on thirteen runs for 53 yards and caught five passes for 25 yards vs. Wake Forest…Followed with twelve rushes for 143 yards and two more scores vs. North Carolina State before leaving the game with a wrist fracture…Carried 27 times for 145 yards and a score, adding 14 yards on three receptions vs. South Carolina…Named Champs Sports Bowl MVP as he became the only player to rush for over 100 yards vs. Colorado all season, scoring once on 28 attempts for 150 yards, as he also collected 21 yards on two catches.
2006-Sat out the Temple game (10/22) and played just one snap vs. Georgia Tech (10/29) after he suffered a wrist fracture vs. North Carolina State (10/13).
2008-Underwent shoulder surgery on April 3rd after he suffered the injury during spring drills (3/13).
COMBINE AGILITY TESTS
4.55 in the 40-yard dash…1.53 10-yard dash…2.62 20-yard dash…4.37 20-yard shuttle…
7.15 three-cone drill…32-inch vertical jump…9'1" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times…30 ½-inch arm length…10 1/8-inch hands.
CAMPUS AGILITY TESTS
4.45 in the 40-yard dash…1.50 10-yard dash…2.50 20-yard dash.
Attended Douglass (Atlanta, Ga.) High School, playing football for head coach Gary Cantrell…Rated the seventh-best running back in the nation and the 16th-best overall prospect in the state of Georgia by Rivals.com…Ranked fourth on Georgia's Super Prep All-Dixie team, earning All-American honors from that recruiting service…Received the Golden Helmet Award as the team MVP, as he gained All-State Class AAAAA first-team recognition as a senior and honorable mention as a junior…Rushed for 2,389 yards and 28 touchdowns on 350 carries as a senior, twice gaining over 300 yards on the ground in a game…For his career, he amassed 7,339 yards and 80 touchdowns rushing.
Sociology major…Born 1/01/86...Resides in Atlanta, Georgia.