Arriving to Texas during the Charlie Strong era, cornerback Davante Davis was poised to be a significant contributor for the Longhorns during his tenure playing in burnt orange.
Coming in as a highly coveted four-star recruit, Davis was set to make a splash considerably early, and as a freshman, he did that. Under the guidance of former defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn, Davis saw action in all 12 games in his first season, including five straight starts to end his freshman campaign. During that season, Davis led the team with seven pass breakups.
With a coaching change at the defensive backs position into his sophomore season, Davis began to see his role within the defense diminish after starting the first four games for the Longhorns. Davis only recorded 15 tackles and two pass breakups in that season. His second season with the Horns is where most would say Davis started to be categorized as an inconsistent player.
Under a totally new regime with Tom Herman taking over as the head coach in 2017, Davis needed a fresh start. Now under his third defensive backs coach — Jason Washington — the inconsistency of Davis was a question from the jump for Herman.
“He’s physically able to do it,” Herman said. “He just has some breakdowns from time to time that can be costly, so he’s got to be more consistent.”
Through his last two seasons under Todd Orlando’s defense, the staff asked a lot from Davis, and he found ways to step in and showed a great deal of maturity as he concluded his career with Texas starting 16 of his last 17 games. He was particularly important in 2017 as a replacement for the suspended Holton Hill.
Looking back on Davis’ career at the Forty Acres, it’s easy to say that he never lived up to the hype or was an erratic performer because of the spurts of time he saw action on the field and games he started. But it would be unfair not to mention that Davis was dealt three different position coaches in his four years, and made the most out of his circumstances.
The next mountain for the Miami native to climb is securing a spot on an NFL roster.
Davis fits the mold of what defensive backs look like at the next level, so because of that and his contributions the past four years, he was invited to participate in the NFL Combine earlier this year.
While in Indianapolis for that event, Davis measured at 6’2, 202 pounds, confirming his prototypical size for the cornerback position. In the testing portion, Davis clocked an official 40-yard dash time at 4,57 seconds, the three cone drill at 6.76 seconds, and a 4.15 20-yard shuttle. The explosive cornerback also had a vertical jump of 37 inches and a 125-inch broad jump.
Did Davis help his draft stock in a tremendous way after his combine performance? Not necessarily, but he most certainly did not hurt it — he doesn’t have ideal long speed, but his shuttle was solid and his vertical was impressive for a cornerback with his size.
On the field, Davis plays an aggressive style of football at cornerback, with a physicality you don’t normally see from players residing at that position on the collegiate level. When Davis is locked in on the field, he can legitimately set the tone for the defense, as he did at times for the Longhorns being one of their primary punishers in the secondary.
Looking for the knockout on offensive weapons isn’t all Davis is good for, however, as he’s actually a skilled technical tackler that runs his feet through ball carriers and wraps up — a good reason why Davis was able to notch 119 total tackles, with 102 of those being solo. That amount of solo tackles is exceptionally impressive, as it proves that Davis wasn’t just jumping on piles after arriving late.
Davis is long and gifted enough to play corner, but is instinctive enough to be someone that could create a lane for himself at safety if he’s able to make the necessary reads and continue his hard-nosed toughness as the last line of defense.
There will be some things coaches and front offices love about a player, and there will always be something that they feel a player needs work on. What Davis will need to continue to be better at is playing with more body control in one-on-one situations and when the ball is in the air down the field. At times he loses sight of things the farther he’s forced to cover downfield.
You’d also like to see Davis take much better angles when in pursuit. He could make his living lining up all over the field being an enforcer if he’s able to clean that up. Although he does have explosiveness, Davis doesn’t have much twitchy movements, which is a good reason for him to move to the safety position at the next level.
The former Longhorn will most likely be drafted on the third day or be an instant pick up as an undrafted free agent. Regardless of where Davis ends up, he has the ability to be one of those rookies that makes a name for himself during training camp.
Think of the way Holton Hill was able to make an impact with the Minnesota Vikings last year; while they had two totally different situations coming out and have inverse playing styles, Davis could very much see himself in the same position this upcoming season because he holds the type of intangibles that can transfer to the next level well.