Back at the first Junior Day in February, Skyline receiver Mike bore the ignominious distinction of being one of the few players not to receive a Texas offer at the event. Some speculated that Davis left unhappy and feeling disrespected about the slight. By the end of February, he had committed to LSU ($) over offers from national programs like Florida, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Stanford, and California, citing his comfort level with the program and the coaches recruiting him. However, several weeks ago, Davis re-opened his commitment.
Upon hearing that Davis was once again taking visits, the Texas coaching staff got into contact with him again and expressed their interest, led by Metroplex recruiter Bruce Chambers. Davis also communicated with Orangebloods, leading him to become the infamous "mystery recruit" until his announcement that he would visit Texas. It's not clear when Davis received his offer, though it probably happened over the phone, but he reportedly was a silent commit for some time before making it to Austin to meet with the coaching staff and make his decision official. Davis says that he will not take any other visits, per Mack Brown's policy, and will sign his letter of intent on National Signing Day.
There are several possible explanations for why Davis decided that he no longer wanted to become an LSU Tiger. Since he has been a silent commit for several weeks, it's not likely that the loss of recruiting coordinator Larry Porter to Memphis and the resignation last week of wide receivers coach DJ McCarthy, who is under investigation for making improper phone calls to a recruit, though Davis may have known of that investigation prior to his decision to re-open his recruitment. McCarthy's departure was not the only major change in the LSU program, as recruiting coordinator Larry Porter left for the Memphis head coaching position at the end of November.
The more likely reason is that Davis did not like the usage ($) of freshman Ruben Randle this season, saying that there was "something wrong" with his number of touches and felt that LSU was underutilizing all of their receivers, which, Davis said, "worries me a bit." In addition, the use of speedy freshman Russell Shepard fell short of expectations and the offense as a whole underperformed considerably, ranking near the bottom of the country in total offense.
Given the depth chart at Texas, any expectations for early playing time are probably even more slim for Davis than they would be at LSU, but Marquise Goodwin's opportunity to play this season after proving himself in fall camp no doubt influenced Davis and may continue to help the Longhorns in recruiting at the position in the future by slowing down any attempts at negative recruiting by rival programs.
All told, Davis' decision to re-open his commitment, which led to contact from the Texas staff, and his subsequent commitment, perfectly illustrates the late momentum Texas is building as the final stretch approaches before Signing Day. It's been years since Texas has had this much going well at the end fo the recruiting process and there are still a handful of players on the board still considering donning burnt orange in college.
As mentioned in the immediate reaction to the news, Skyline has been a difficult school to recruit for the Longhorns recently, with the prevailing rumor being that the coaching staff doesn't care for Texas all that much for unknown reasons. With Christian Scott already enrolled and Mike Davis now prepared to become a Longhorn, Mack Brown and company may finally be making inroads into the talented program, which features possible 2011 targets Franklin Shannon and Anthony Wallace, with Wallace likely being one of the top targets on the board because of his ability to play either linebacker or defensive end and excel as a blitzer and/or edge rusher.
As Texas continues to secure talent in the Metroplex, Skyline may be one of the last dominoes to fall and if it does become a pipeline program, the recruiting machine that is Texas football could move from juggernaut to unstoppable behemoth. And that should strike fear into the hearts of Big 12 coaches across the conference, particularly the artist formerly known as Big Game Bob, whose program has failed to lure as many DFW prospects north of the Red River in recent years.
For all the talk about the larger implications of Davis' decision, those won't be felt until a later time if they are even felt at all. For now, perspective is necessary on just what his addition means to the program. Obviously, the major storyline is the large number of wide receiver commits in the class, as Davis joins Chris Jones and John Harris as the pure receivers in the class, with Darius Terrell a candidate for the flex tight end position and DeMarco Cobbs an athlete who will probably have an opportunity on the offensive side of the ball when he arrives.
If Cobbs ends up at safety or linebacker and Terrell is truly a flex tight end, that significantly decreases the actual number and when combined with the likely defections of a receiver or two during the offseason, it leaves the Longhorns at a manageable number and with room for Darius White. Since White projects as an outside receiver, the addition of a guy pegged for the slot or flanker position probably won't impact his decision and he's such an elite talent that the Longhorns have to find room for him as long they have a scholarship available.
Basically, the current depth at the position ensures that if there are any injuries, transfers, or out-and-out busts in the group, it won't significantly cripple production at the position -- Texas should have an elite receiving corps for years to come, making the jobs of Garrett Gilbert and Connor Wood that much easier.
Instant Scouting Report
It's still not clear why the Longhorns didn't originally offer Davis at the first Junior Day, or what exactly changed with their evaluation of Davis during and after his senior season. Likewise, it's difficult to determine when exactly Davis re-established contact with the Texas coaching staff, so it seems unlikely that his three touchdown, 263-yard performance against Adrian White and DeSoto in the playoffs had any impact on his eventual offer. Regardless, the production has always been there for Davis and it may be that the coaching staff came to regret their early decision not to offer him.
Though Davis is not an extremely highly-ranked player at this position (18th at receiver by Rivals), he does bring several outstanding attributes to the Texas program. Foremost among them is his route running, as he runs extremely crisp routes and uses his excellent initial burst to create separation out of his breaks. Variously listed at between 6-0 and 6-1, Davis is a deep threat because of his route-running ability -- he simply eats up a defender's cushion extremely quickly. If a quarterback does happen to underthrow the pass, Davis has the body control to adjust to the ball in the air and make a play on it, using his strong hands to secure the football.
The comparison for Davis in the class is Chris Jones, as both players are major threats in the screen game and can break long plays, while both are outstanding deep threats given their respective heights and can catch the ball in traffic. Both players reach top speed extremely quickly, though Davis doesn't quite have the elite top-end speed that Jones possesses.
Like Jones, the concern with Davis is that he needs to develop the strength and ability to beat press coverage -- though he burned Adrian White in the first half of the DeSoto-Skyline playoff game this season when White was giving him a big cushion, when the DeSoto corner walked up to the line of scrimmage and began to jam him, Davis was much less productive in the second half. Though the general consensus is that beating press coverage will be a problem. IT's Jeff Howe thinks that facing cornerbacks with the speed to take away his cushion and then run with him down field may be a bigger obstacle to overcome ($) than just beating a jam at the line. However, Davis does still have a thin upper body and though he has bulked up considerably since his junior season, he needs to add strength.
The major difference between Jones and Davis is that where the Daingerfield star likes to get upfield as quickly as possible after catches, Davis has better shake in his hips to juke defenders, but is also much more likely to slow down in his attempts to avoid tacklers and is more likely to allow defenders trailing the play to catch him from behind. Ball security could also be an issue for Davis in college, as he often doesn't properly secure the football and tends to carry it in one hand like Deion Sanders used to do after interceptions, or otherwise doesn't maintain the necessary three points of contact, carrying the ball away from his body.
The addition of Davis allows the coaching staff options with Jones and Davis on the strong side of the field, as they both have the ability to play the flanker and slot positions and can be put wherever they are most comfortable and most effective. At this point, it's hard to say which player is better suited for which position, but Davis is clearly the more refined of the two as a route runner, which perhaps makes the slot a better position for him.
Overall, Davis is not quite an elite prospect like Darius White because he lacks the top-end speed and ability as a return man, but he is a highly-polished receiver who needs only to spend some time in the weight room and maximize his explosiveness to contribute at the collegiate level. Of all the receivers currently committed in the class, Davis may be the most ready to step onto the field as a freshman and contribute, although the depth chart probably precludes that opportunity with a so many players in front of him.
Much like Goodwin this season, Davis would have to surpass players like Brock Fitzhenry, DeSean Hales, and possibly DJ Monroe or even Goodwin himself to crack the rotation. In all likelihood, that rotation will consist of Malcolm Williams, James Kirkendoll, John Chiles, Brandon Collins, Goodwin, Monroe, and possibly Greg Timmons -- that's seven players in front of Davis. However, even if Davis doesn't see the field often in 2010, there is a strong chance that he will be an impact player in the Texas offense before his career on the 40 Acres ends. And that makes him a great addition to an already excellent class.