Mike Davis was one of the breakout stars in the SEC last season after running for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season as the South Carolina Gamecocks starting running back, but playing through injury at the tail end of the season zapped his burst as he scored only once in the final five games.
Davis vows that he won’t trail off late in the season this season after bulking up to 220 pounds in the offseason after playing at 205 pounds last season when his body broke down a bit after taking the pounding and was out of steam for the proverbial fourth quarter of the season.
In addition to bulking up, Davis tells ESPN.com’s Chris Low he’s going to be “running angry” this season and still has a large chip on his shoulder from his days in high school when he was viewed as a backup plan by Georgia and Clemson after decommitting from Florida when they continued to recruit other backs despite his commitment.
“You’re going to see a totally different person. I’m not going to lie,” Davis said. “I did a lot to help myself and better myself this offseason, trying to stay healthy. I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been, and being around our guys has helped me be a better teammate.”
That will be music to the ears of South Carolina fans as they will lean on Davis and the host of backs behind him as they adapt to Dylan Thompson under center with Connor Shaw leaving for the NFL and make other SEC defenses a little worried.
The SEC is loaded with great running backs from Todd Gurley, T.J. Yeldon to young backs like Alex Collins, Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette, but it’s Davis who could end up leading the conference in rushing with his bigger frame and attitude.
“If you want to be great, then you’re going to do whatever it takes to help your team win,” Davis said.
South Carolina has made a habit out of 10-win seasons in recent years and with an angry Davis running over defenses it’s hard to envision the Gamecocks not reaching that plateau again.