Friday Night Hero: South Rowan’s John Davis
By Mike London
LANDIS ó If feistiness could be quantified, South Rowan linebacker John Davis would stand 7-foot-5, weigh 500 pounds and run the 40 in about 3.9 seconds.
The perception is that Davis is too small and too slow to be a frontline linebacker, but he’s spent his senior season scratching, clawing and changing minds.
He changed a few more last weekend as South manhandled West Iredell 35-6 to improve to 6-2.
“West Iredell’s got fast kids,” South coach Jason Rollins said. “They ran down three of our fastest ó D’Andre Harris, Thomas Lowe, Quan Glaspy ó from behind, so they’ve got really fast kids. But we were able to keep that speed contained. John and the other linebackers did a great job.”
The 6-foot, 170-pound Davis made a pivotal play, reacting quickly and drilling a back on a swing pass. The ball came loose, and South’s Donte Henderson scooped the bouncing pigskin before returning it for a touchdown.
“West Iredell’s got guys that would make me look stupid in a footrace,” Davis said. “But I saw that pass was coming in high, and I knew that was going to be a kill shot right there.”
Davis, who made two fumble recoveries against Central Cabarrus, also had one Saturday after middle linebacker Cadarreus Mason forced a fumble.
“Cadarreus is always popping them loose,” Davis said. “Fortunately, they keep jumping into my hands.”
Davis is one of three seniors rotating at the two outside linebacker positions flanking Mason. Davis’ comrades-in-arms are Jacob Baker and Jacob Nance.
Nance (5-11, 195) is a strapping guy, while Baker (5-8, 160) is really undersized. He makes Davis look like Brian Urlacher.
The unusual thing about Davis’ emergence is he didn’t play football in 2008.
He did play on the varsity some as a sophomore, but as a junior, he concentrated his energy on basketball. His father, a much bigger John Davis, is a football assistant and the head basketball coach.
“Little John made a mistake and regretted it,” Rollins said. “He didn’t do anything football-wise this summer, but then right before August he called me and said he’d made up his mind to play. I asked him if he was sure, and he said he was. I told him it would be great to have him back, but he had a lot of work to do.”
Davis says it was a tough decision not made overnight.
“There was a time I wanted to just stick with basketball, but Dad wanted me to play and Mom really wanted me to play this year,” Davis said. “A big part of it was I came out to play for them.”
Davis plays football a lot like he plays basketball, a sport in which he makes frequent contact and creates whistles. He’s usually drawing charges or taking trips to the free-throw line.
In football, he plays with attitude. If he’s on your side, you’ll call it passion. If he’s not on your team, you won’t like him very much, but he understands that.
He does what he has to do to survive.
“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “When the team is winning and you’re doing your part, it’s a whole lot of fun.”
And as far as the speed stuff, he claims his wheels are better than advertised.
Just ask his older brother, Derek, a 6-4, 230-pound UNC Pembroke linebacker.
“Dad had my brother race me down the street and said he would beat me,” Davis said. “After five steps, I was way ahead, looking back, thinking about backing in.”
Little John Davis. Always feisty. Still proving people wrong.