Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE
The leading receiver for Texas has rebounded after a sophomore slump that included numerous dropped passes.
Don't look now, but junior receiver Mike Davis is rapidly becoming the most reliable target for sophomore quarterback David Ash, help putting the Magic back in his name after nearing washing out of the program last season.
In 2011, it seemed as if the Skyline product had lost his magic and his mojo, showing little to no effort as a blocker, repeatedly dropping passes, and generally evidencing zero mental and physical toughness.
He admitted to personal problems that may have been tied to his roommate, the departed Darius White, and said that he had thought about quitting the game.
Instead, he came back stronger and with a better mental attitude.
But all the talk from Davis and all the talk emerging from the program was exactly that -- talk. And Texas fans have unquestionably gained some perspective in recent weeks about just how cheap that is.
Davis admitted that he needed to make magic plays to live up to his middle name. After seven games, it's safe to say that he's done so.
Playing on a team that has attempted the ninth-most passes in the conference, behind three teams that have played one fewer game, Davis has been competitive with some of the top receivers in the Big 12 -- he is tied for seventh in touchdown receptions with four, seventh in yards per reception, and fifth in yards.
Not bad in a league that may be the most prolific offensively in the country.
Davis is also the leader on the team in receptions, receiving yards, and tied for the lead in touchdowns with sophomore Jaxon Shipley.
Just as importantly, he's continued his good blocking efforts from the spring into the fall, showing consistent effort and strong results despite his thin frame, even registering a knockdown on an early touchdown run from Joe Bergeron that helped ensure the touchdown hawk could find the endzone.
That's all really a bonus though to his efforts producing big plays. Consistently Ash's favorite target over the course of the season on long passes, his strong route running helps create separation down the field, despite the fact that his speed is far from elite.
Against Oklahoma State, he made the biggest catch of the season, and one of the biggest in recent Texas history, by elevating to pull in a pass over Justin Gilbert to set up the game-winning touchdown against Oklahoma State. Other than the degree of difficulty, which was high with Gilbert trying to dislodge the football as Davis went to the ground, the most impressive element of the play was the fact that it came after he had dropped a sure-fire touchdown earlier in the game. Afterwards, Davis admitted that there would have only been a 50-50 chance he would have made the same play last season.
Instead, Davis went to Ash after the drop and told his quarterback that he would come through with a play if he had the ball thrown his direction again. Ash showed confidence in his wide receiver, delivered the ball on the money, and Davis came down with the catch.
He has the longest catch of the season with his 67-yard effort against Baylor and his four catches of 30 or more yards are the best on the team and represent one-third of the team's totals in that area.
He's also a major threat in the screen game, displaying the vision to find a seam instead of simply trying to follow his pulling guard on one play early against Baylor and then weaving his way through the Bear defense. Another touchdown came in the fourth quarter on a critical second-down play -- the kind of situation in which poor calls led to stalled drives against West Virginia -- when Davis took another screen pass 15 yards to put the Longhorns up 13.
A major reason for that is that Davis has the most shake of any of the wide receivers on the team, even track star Marquise Goodwin and Shipley, who juked a defender pretty badly against New Mexico.
Davis has already surpassed his total yards through the air from his promising freshman season with his high yards per reception average and those four big plays, and is also on pace to surpass his catch totals before the regular season ends, as well.
With the Longhorns offense needing to put points on the board nearly every possession to keep pace with the struggling defense, Texas badly needs Davis to keep producing in the passing game.
He's already playing like Magic is his middle name. Because it is.