Watching the recent high school All-America football games, I found myself thinking about what a dicey proposition the business of talent evaluation and projection of football players from the high school level to the college level really is. There is no more inexact science than this and I feel there is no greater indication of just how important coaching is at the collegiate level. One prime example of this, but certainly not the only one during Mark Richt’s tenure in Athens, is featured in the first installment of what is and will be a staple edition here at the BEAST:
RETROBEAST: THOMAS DAVIS, #10, Safety (2002-2004)
Thomas Davis was a student athlete from Randolph-Clay Middle/High School in southwestern Georgia with a total student population of 471. Davis received only one offer to play Division-1 college football. That offer came from the University of Georgia and Defensive Coordinator Brian Van Gorder. Van Gorder offered Davis a scholarship after watching him play basketball and being blown away by how a man with Davis’ size could be so fast, so agile and jump so well. Mark Richt often said that he had never seen a player that was a better tackler in the open field than Davis. Not only was Davis’ tackling technique fundamentally sound, it was also devastatingly violent.
Davis burst onto the scene for Georgia, being on the field in crucial late game situations for the DAWGS in huge early season road victories over South Carolina and Alabama in the 2002 season. Obviously, those wins came in route to Georgia winning its first SEC Championship in twenty years.
Davis finished his Georgia career in the top ten in solo tackles (185) and led the DAWGS in tackles in 2003 and 2004. The Georgia safety earned AP and Coach’s All-SEC honors in 2003 and 2004 and was named an All-America in 2004 by the AFCA, Walter Camp and The Sporting News. Davis was a first round draft choice of the Carolina Panthers in 2005.