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Derek the D

By Mike London
Salisbury Post
LANDIS ó South Rowan senior Derek Davis and 34 honors chorus teammates sang at Carnegie Hall over the weekend.
Davis, who signed with UNC Pembroke shortly before he sang, isn’t one for speeches. He managed to condense his observations of the Big Apple into two sentences and 10 words. Might be a record.
“Lots of big things,” Davis said. “Lots of people moving very fast.”
Davis’ description of New York is similar to descriptions opponents offered about him the last two football seasons ó really big and moving pretty fast.
Right now, Davis, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, can’t move as quickly as he’d like. Basketball season ó his father, John, is South’s coach ó wore him down more than football did. He still finished 10th on South’s career scoring list with 704 points.Davis ended the hoops season with a sore back and aching ankle, ailments not conducive to running impressive 40 times. He ran the 40 in 4.78 last summer. He says right now his times “are real crappy.”
Davis was disappointed in a recruiting process that began with lots of interest from lots of schools but dead-ended temporarily with zero offers on National Signing Day.
But he’s thrilled UNC Pembroke offered a package that rewards his academic as well as athletic feats.
Last fall, Pembroke competed in football for the first time since the 1950s, and it’s making serious recruiting noise. In Davis, the Braves landed a sleeper who piled up tackles. He was all-county and All-NPC, and NCPreps.com named him to its 3A All-State team.
“UNCP kind of came out of the blue, but the coaches saw film on me, and then I went down there and did some reads and agility drills,” Davis said. “They talked to us, and I thought things over and decided that’s where I wanted to go.”
Davis’ father and South head coach Jason Rollins also made the trip. Both came back impressed with the mega-dollars that have been pumped into UNC Pembroke football and the campus. John Davis played college basketball just down the road from Pembroke at St. Andrews, and he was amazed at how much Pembroke had changed.
UNCP boasts glittering facilities, including a 4,000-seat football stadium. Construction has started on a $2 million pressbox that will be ready for the 2008 season.
Shiny Caton Fieldhouse is spacious. Davis will dress in a 3,000-square-foot locker room and lift in a 2,800-square-foot weight room.
A state-supported school, UNC Pembroke owns a price-tag edge over most area colleges. For another year or two, it can also offer the opportunity to compete for early playing time. UNCP lost to Wingate 57-14 last fall, so it’s still going to be a while before it builds up depth.
Davis used to be thought of as a basketball prospect, but he started attracting attention in football when he made 16 tackles in a victory against North Davidson in October of his junior year.
“Derek just has a knack for finding the ball,” longtime South assistant Tim Corriher said. “His best days are ahead. He’s been a two-sport kid, but once he starts training his body exclusively for football, everything is going to be magnified.”
Davis is hitting the weights hard now and wants to report to Pembroke at 245 pounds and fully healthy.
“Derek stood out in some drills down there,” Rollins said. “The other thing that stood out are his good SATs and grades in the 3.5-3.7 range. That made my life easier. When college coaches see a transcript like Derek’s got, their eyes just light up.”
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Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypost.com.

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