The Wolverine

August 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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  where are they now? wanted me to go wherever I thought I'd be happiest. "I ended up choosing Michigan because of that." He found himself in cutthroat competition as a result — not only with Wheatley and Powers, but also with fellow Detroiter and emerging back Jesse Johnson. The backfield was so loaded that running backs coach Tirell Burton told Davis he might want to consider playing cornerback instead, a position at which he'd have a better chance to see the field and might even have a shot at the pros. Running back was in Davis' heart, though, and he told Burton he wanted to compete. He never sulked publicly, taking a "when you shine, I shine" approach with his fellow backs. He'd call his dad or a friend when he did struggle with the weight of his situation, but he never let it affect the team. He put his head down and continued to work, impressing teammates with his resolve and persistence. When he did get his opportunities, he made the most of them. His first came in a 61-7 blowout of Houston in his redshirt freshman season when he rushed for a team-high 105 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown run. "I think that opened some eyes a bit," he said. He ran 10 times for 84 yards a week later in a 52-28 blowout of Iowa, turning a three-headed monster into a nationally unparalleled fearsome foursome of backs for first year running backs coach Fred Jackson. Jackson didn't necessarily want to play a quartet of backs, but practice dictated who got the carries. There was so much talent that it changed on a daily basis, and there were days Davis was the best of the bunch. "He was a fricking good back," 1992 All-Big Ten lineman Doug Skene recalled. "He would have probably been a starter on other Big Ten teams, but in those years he was caught behind two first-rounders. "He was tough and just had really good balance. He wasn't going to go down with one arm tackle, and we gave him a lot of grief, but we loved him. He ran hard. The linemen always used to say to each other, 'He'd be a star anywhere else,' because we never dropped off with him in there. We were just as productive with him in there as anyone else." The line played a big role in that, Davis acknowledged. He did his part, too, to earn their trust and that of his coaches. Moeller called his number on a critical third-and-two play in the 1993 Rose Bowl, and it paid off with an eight-yard run that kept a drive alive. In a 28-0 blowout of undefeated Ohio State, Davis rushed for 96 yards and was the workhorse down the stretch, scoring the last touchdown on a five-yard scamper. The career numbers weren't overwhelming — 1,371 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns — but he was a big part of the team's offensive success in his four-year career. Davis signed a rookie free agent contract with the Detroit Lions in

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