Still a Tiger at heart

Many thought James Davis' rookie season in the NFL was full of potential. However, the ex-Clemson running back saw his 2009 campaign cut short after he suffered a torn labrum in practice and was placed on injured reserve in early October.

Undaunted by this bit of adversity, Davis has since focused on returning to the field and making a huge contribution to Cleveland in his second season. Judging from his performances thus far in Browns' training camp, his efforts are paying dividends. It looks like Davis has positioned himself to make a solid contribution on special teams and if he does well in that role, then Cleveland could very well be forced to get him more reps in the backfield.

Davis is also one of three ex-Tigers currently with the Browns, as Chansi Stuckey and Chris Chancellor have also been working hard in training camp to make the 53-man regular season roster.

Having rushed for nearly 4,000 yards and 50 touchdowns during his college career, this former Clemson great is loved by Tiger fans as much as any player to come out of Tigertown in years. Recently CUTigers.com caught up with the former Clemson great by phone to get the latest on his development in the pros as well as some thoughts on his time in Tigertown:

James first off, how have things been going for you this off-season?
Davis: Everything has been going as planned. I've been doing really good up here in camp. I just want to keep progressing and show that Tiger pride. It's fun to see out here.

How you think your time at Clemson laid the foundation for you to be in the NFL and be successful in the future?
Davis: Playing at Clemson, especially in my senior year, has really helped me. The Clemson offense was pretty similar to the offense we run here and that's really helped me out a lot. We ran a pro-style offense and that was pretty big for me to be able to come into this offense [and pick it up right away].


James Davis rushed for 3,881 yards and 47 touchdowns during his four-year career at Clemson. (Roy Philpott)
What's it like having Chansi Stuckey and Chris Chancellor playing in Cleveland with you?
Davis: It's going pretty good. I've got Chansi Stuckey and Chris Chancellor here. Both of those guys have been doing really good. Chansi's got a starting role and he's been excellent in camp. Chris Chancellor, the coaches really like him. He's a tough player. We all like to tell each other that we've got to keep that Clemson Pride going. That's big. We all want to succeed and keep living the dream.

How have you changed the most since last season?
Davis: [I can better] keep up with the pace of the game. A lot of other stuff was a lot faster last year and now, everything has slowed down. You start to realize everything is starting to come to you a lot easier than your rookie year like your reads and everything else. You have to learn a lot of stuff as a rookie. I'm a guy that didn't play too much on special teams at Clemson. Now, I'm able to come here and play special teams, returning kick offs and punts. Those are things I never really did [in college]. So, last year helped me a lot in having to adjust. Coming in and doing that, I think that's helped me a lot.

What's the adjustment been like for you to play special teams?
Davis: I kind of look at Terrell Davis, a guy that went sixth round and he made it first on kickoffs. He made a big hit and he was able to get his chance to play. I kind of look at that perception on it. I just try to go out there and compete until I get my shot.

How do you think the Tigers are going to do this year?
Davis: I was reading up on it and am glad Kyle Parker stayed. That was big time for Clemson. I'm always reading up on Clemson every day. They've got a lot of young guys in there with Andre Ellington and Jamie [Harper]. Those guys have got some experience. They played last year. I think it's definitely going to help out a lot. They've got guys back and I can't speak enough about Coach Dabo Swinney. He's definitely turned that program around. I'm just anxious. Guys in the locker room, everybody is always talking about their college and everything like that. It's always good for your college to win and be productive because everybody in the locker room wants bragging rights.

What kinds of bets are made with your fellow ACC products also on the Browns during the season?
Davis: It's a good thing we had C.J. Spiller go very high. Now everybody will be watching him. I was bragging on C.J. that he was going to go high. A lot of guys didn't think he was going to go high but it's a good thing he did. Now I've got the bragging rights to show those guys what he's going to do once he gets there. They said I've got a lot of speed and that I'm fast. I told them they've never seen C.J. Spiller. All that stuff right there, it's always good to throw around there when you have team meetings and stuff.


They've got guys back and I can't speak enough about Coach Dabo Swinney. He's definitely turned that program around. I'm just anxious. Guys in the locker room, everybody is always talking about their college and everything like that. It's always good for your college to win and be productive because everybody in the locker room wants bragging rights. (Roy Philpott)
How much of a mentoring role have you played with Chris Chancellor?
Davis: I pretty much told him what I went through last year and what I had to do to make the team. I've been telling him how it's going to be tough to just go out there and get a starting role. Guys make a lot of money to start. I told him you can work hard at that but the main thing you want to work hard on is on special teams. That's how you're going to earn your spot. He's taken that into it and is definitely looking good out there on special teams. I told him no matter what, just keep working hard and it'll come to you because you can't just come in and things will happen. You've got to work your way to the top.

Discuss what rookie rites of passage you went through last year and what's it like to now be dishing it out?
Davis: It was OK. I didn't really go through too much rookie hazing. Rookies on other teams had to put on talent shows and things like that but they don't do the hazing where you're taped to the goal post or something like that. We have a rookie show where you've got to show some kind of talent. That's kind of what we do now. You've got to be prepared because you never know when the coach is going to call on you. I still carried some guys' helmets off the practice field when I was a rookie. That wasn't anything new. I knew that was coming. [For my talent], we did a skit where we were reporters asking the coaches a lot of questions. It was like a funny skit. Everybody was laughing.

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