Deshaun Davis dominated in the SEC with a punishing style. Now headed for a future in the NFL, the youngster is taking that same mentality into the draft.
Deshaun Davis didn’t take the easy road to Auburn University. He won’t be leaving on it, either.
This spring, Davis is leaving Auburn University a better man and a much better football player than when the school found him. Born and raised in Pritchard, Alabama by a single mother, Davis began his odyssey towards the doorstep of the NFL.
In high school, the future All-SEC middle linebacker was All-State in his sophomore and junior seasons before tearing his ACL during workouts prior to his senior campaign. Even with the injury, Davis had legions of schools offering him including all of the SEC, namely Alabama and LSU.
Davis grew up an LSU fan. His entire family pulled for the Crimson Tide. He chose Auburn.
Believing the Tigers offered a family atmosphere, the former Bigor High School star went to Auburn expecting to compete for a significant role as a redshirt freshman. Instead, Davis only played in three games, totaling five tackles. To make matters worse, his grandmother passed prior to the season, never seeing Davis suit up for a college game.
With Davis at his lowest point, he found a proverbial port in the storm. Travis Williams, a former graduate assistant, was promoted to linebackers coach.
“He changed my life as a football player and as a person,” Davis said. “He showed me so much love. He showed his players that he loved us on and off the field too.”
Under Williams, Davis flourished as a three-year starter for the Tigers, notching 194 tackles and 7.5 sacks over his final two collegiate seasons.
With the NFL Draft less than two months away, Davis has shifted his focus to the next level. At the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Davis tied for fourth among linebackers with 25 bench-press reps while finishing in the penultimate spot with a 31-inch vertical leap.
While the latter number is underwhelming, it helps to understand who Davis is as a player. He’s not going to make the flashy interception 20 yards downfield or range from sideline-to-sideline. Instead, he’s going to be the two-down run stuffer who can plug a gap and deliver a shot. Even with the NFL moving into a pass-heavy era, there’s always value in that type of player.
“I’m a downhill, physical linebacker,” Davis said. “I take pride in stopping the run. I know a lot of people say it’s a finesse game now, but I play physical. … I like to be the hammer, not the nail.”
Davis has spoken to all 32 teams and expects to keep in close contact up to and throughout the NFL Draft, beginning on April 25 and ending two days later. He’s been told to expect a late-round selection, but it doesn’t really matter. Davis just wants a chance.
“I have no clue (where I’ll be drafted),” Davis said. “I’ve been telling everyone in this business, it’s based on individual performance. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-rounder or a camp body.”
Come late April, Davis will find out exactly how he measures up in the eyes of the NFL. Not that he cares.