Recruiting Spotlight: Mike Davis

Fourth in the series of the Crowning Six (previously: Jeffcoat, Hicks, and White)

Vitals

Name: Mike Davis

Position: Wide receiver

Height: 6-1

Weight: 185

Speed: 4.4 40-yard dash

High School: Skyline

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (6.0)

Offers

Baylor, California, Florida, Kansas, LSU, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech

Overview/Recruitment

Back at the first Junior Day in February of 2009, Skyline receiver Mike Davis 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, last fall 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 his intentions to 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.

There are several possible explanations for why Davis decided that he no longer wanted to become an LSU Tiger. Since he was been a silent commit for several weeks, it's not likely that the loss of recruiting coordinator Larry Porter to Memphis and the resignation of wide receivers coach DJ McCarthy, who is under investigation for making improper phone calls to a recruit, played a major factor, 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.

The proximity of Austin to Dallas versus Baton Rouge also played a role for Davis -- the not quite age-old, but extremely relevant factor of his mother wanting him closer to home had an impact for the talented receiver.

Beyond the value of his commitment -- which is substantial given the possibility that he will be able to contribute as a freshman -- the decision was an important in the overall arc of recruiting at Skyline, one of the powerhouse programs in the state that produces an enormous number of Division I prospects, and, for whatever reason, has been a difficult school from which to pull recruits for Mack Brown and his staff.

So while Christian Scott, another Skyline product, represented a strong recruiting entryway to Skyline, the commitment of Davis will continue to help Texas in the attempt to turn Skyline into a pipeline school. And don't underestimate the importance of that because it could quickly pay dividends -- WR Thomas Johnson and LB Peter Jinkens are two top prospects from Skyline in the 2012 class and both could become Texas targets. Given that Oklahoma has several Skyline players on their own roster, the battle for Skyline recruits is a major thread in the narrative of competition between the Red River Rivals.

Scouting report:

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.

* Note: By the final rankings, Davis moved up to the number four spot nationally at wide receiver by Rivals.

Strengths

  • Route running: This area stands out above all others -- Davis attacks defenders in man coverage and his ability to get quickly into and out of his breaks without slowing down makes him a dangerous deep threat. Dangerous on double moves. Has drawn comparisons to Jordan Shipley for this aspect of his game.
  • Playmaking ability: It's not always the case with statistics, but they tell a strong tale with Mike Davis -- 19 touchdowns on more than 24 yards per catch for as a senior. Big. time.
  • Body control/leaping ability: A player with a penchant for leaping, spectacular grabs, Davis plays larger than his size because of his ability to go up and get the football, especially in traffic. 
  • Short-area burst/lateral quickness: Davis gets upfield quickly with the ball and has the ability to reach top speed quickly and also to change direction to leave defenders in his wake. Can adjust to poorly-thrown balls.

Weaknesses

  • Ball security: Dude often carries the ball like a loaf of bread and he won't be able to get away with that in college.
  • Size: Listed variously between 6-0 and 6-1, Davis has only adequate size for a college receiver.
  • Strength/beating press coverage: A lanky kid who spent his off-seasons playing basketball, Davis must get stronger to beat jams in college -- as much as he torched Adrian White in their two meetings, White had most of his success when he was up in the face of Davis and being physica with him.
  • Straight-line speed: Davis is probably the second- or third-fastest receiver in the 2010 Texas class at receiver, behind Chris Jones and possibly Darius White.

Next Step on MaxPreps w/ Mike Davis (via stoneisastd)

Rivals video ($)

Target weight: 190-195 pounds. At the wide receiver position, it's more about maximizing speed and strength rather than simply adding bulk, so Davis won't have to add a lot of weight at the college level.

Verdict

With Davis, the consensus is clear about the expectations for him. Conventional wisdom has it that it won't be long before he makes it onto the field as a Longhorn -- his route running is probably better than some of the receivers on the roster and his short-area explosion makes him a perfect fit for the screen game the Longhorns like to run, as well as making him a threat on double moves exploiting teams that want to overplay shorter routes.

Because of that explosion and ability to take the ball the distance, there is little chance that Davis will be a bust for the Longhorns -- he has playmaker written all over him. Whether it's from the slot or flanker position, Davis is a threat with the football in his hands and needs only to add strength. As deep as the Texas receiving class is in 2009, Davis' route-running ability and shake in the open field gives the class an added dimension lacking prior to his commitment.

Impact ETA: 2010. A good comparison might be Marquis Goodwin and his production as a freshman last season -- with experienced receivers like John Chiles, James Kirkendoll, and, to a lesser extent, Desean Hales, spending time in the slot this season, Davis may have some trouble getting a lot of game reps.

However, those around the program have had high expectations for Davis ever since the spring and his extensive time on the field during the second open practice indicates that the coaches plan on getting an extended look at his skill set before the season begins.

The polish is there and the talent is there and the coaches spoke loudly by starting him with the first team in the second open practice (although they were running five-wide sets), it would be a surprise not to see Davis crack the rotation and make some plays this fall.

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