Photo by Dennis Thomas
Lovejoy cornerback Brandon Davis has had two 100-yard interceptions returned for touchdowns for the seventh-ranked Wildcats.
HAMPTON — Lovejoy defensive end Zane Fields had just one word to describe teammate Brandon Davis.
“Playmaker,” Fields said.
“He’s our Honey Badger,” said Fields, making reference to former LSU star safety and Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu. “Look at him,” said Fields while pointing to a helmetless Davis on the practice field.
“He’s small like him. He’s got the little blonde patch in the hair and everything.”
Watch his exploits on the field with the ball in his hands, however, and his hair color will be the last thing on your mind.
“He’s got all the qualities,” Fields said. “Speed, aggressiveness, physicality. He’s got the whole package, and anywhere he is on the field he just makes plays.”
Arshad Jackson knows better than most. The senior tight end lines up frequently against Davis in practice every day. He said it’s the toughest competition he’s faced all year.
“Brandon, he’s a little feisty,” Jackson said. “He likes to get up in your face and get the ball. He’s a true lock down corner.”
Such high praise from Jackson is especially impressive considering Jackson’s 6-7 and 250 pounds.
Davis is generously listed at 5-feet-9 inches.
Size not withstanding, Davis has stood tall in the Lovejoy stat sheet because he always seems to be somewhere near the ball. Particularly true on defense where before the playoffs began, the senior corner/wide receiver had recorded five interceptions — three of which he returned for touchdowns.
But perhaps his signature moment of the season occurred last Friday toward the end of Lovejoy’s dominating 36-15 second round playoff win against Marietta.
Marietta quarterback and LSU commitment Anthony Jennings lofted a pass into the endzone and Davis stepped in front of it, taking it back 105 yards for a Wildcat touchdown.
As spectacular of a play it was, Davis made it sound rudimentary — almost mundane, chalking it up to just being where he was supposed to be on the football field.
“I was just in our cover three and just trying to do what (defensive coordinator Kevin Jones) told me to do,” Davis said. “I was just in the right place to make the play.”
But why not down it for a touchback?
“I decided to take it back and score to prove a point,” he said. “We keep hearing people talk about how we’re not ready for AAAAAA teams. They talk about how all of our defensive backfield left last year and we weren’t going to be good. I’m just out here trying to prove a point.”
The Lovejoy secondary likes to say they play with a chip on their shoulder. And Davis — perhaps the smallest of the bunch — carries the largest chip for a reason.
Davis was a missing piece to Lovejoy’s Class AAAA state runner-up squad in 2011. Davis didn’t get to step out on the field against Tucker at the Georgia Dome.
He didn’t get a chance to do his best Honey Badger impersonation because he wasn’t a part of last year’s team. And he won’t blame anybody for his absence except himself.
“Grades wise, I just wasn’t focused,” he said. “I didn’t know what it meant to stay on track and be a student athlete. Being young, I messed up and I had to find a way to get back on track.”
That road began for Davis after missing his sophomore season due to low grades. Since last year, however, Davis said he’s maintained a B average and is looking for more — both on and off the football field.
“It’s something I think about every day,” he said. “How if I would’ve taken care of my business I would have been able to be out there with my team.”
Fields takes it a step further.
“If he had been playing these last couple of years, he would have been one of the best players in the state by now,” Fields said. “He knows that. It’s his determination from not playing that makes him so dangerous.”
As for the Honey Badger nickname?
“I’ll take it,” Davis said. “As far as what he did on the football field, I guess it’s not a bad name. It’s good to know my teammates feel that way about me.”
Davis said he’s “even hungrier” to succeed now that his Wildcats are just two games away from taking another shot at a state championship.
But he’s also got a greater appetite for non-football related success. He said he plans to major in sports management when he goes to college next year — and of course, play football.
“There’s been so many talented football players in my family that just didn’t have the chance to make it,” Davis said. “But I do now. If I could tell any young freshman something, I’d tell them don’t lose focus. Stay away from people not going anywhere. Don’t be that person 20 or 30 years later talking about what I could have been.”