A month ago our guest columnist Reece Funderburk argued University of South Carolina running back Mike Davis was due some respect …
As the 2013 season has progressed so has the homage owed to this blazing/ bruising 5-foot-9, 215-pound sophomore from Lithonia, Georgia – who as far as we’re concerned is the undisputed MVP of the No. 12 Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2 SEC) season so far.
And possibly the best player in the SEC …
On just 166 carries, Davis has racked up 1,058 yards. That’s tops in the SEC, but it’s also the eighth-best total in South Carolina history (and he’s got three regular season games left to play). Davis has also caught 29 passes for 326 yards – and proved invaluable in providing pass protection for USC quarterback Connor Shaw.
It’s not just his stats, though … Davis has been a clutch performer late in games when it matters most.
“Davis has proven to be the ultimate closer in college football,” Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report notes. “While Heisman contender LacheSeastrunk does his work largely in the first half of games, 615 of Davis’ 1,058 rushing yards this season have come in the second half. Whether his team needs a spark or needs to slam the door, Davis has answered the call.”
Indeed … which is why we believe he deserves to be on the Heisman Trophy shortlist, not on the outside looking in (which is where he currently finds himself).
Davis may not break Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers single-season rushing record of 1,894 yards (set in 1980), but then again he’s probably not going to get another 158 carries (which would match Rogers’ 324 rushing attempts that season). Remember, Davis plays for a balanced, multi-dimensional offense led by a mobile quarterback who has rushed for 1,500 yards during his college career.
That’s what makes his numbers all the more impressive …
Davis has a week to rest before his Gamecocks finish their season with home games against SEC East rival Florida, FCS opponent Coastal Carolina and arch-rival No. 7 Clemson. The Gators and Tigers, incidentally, have two of the nation’s stingiest rushing defenses – presenting Davis with a pair of perfect opportunities to showcase his skills.
And while we don’t expect Davis to win the Heisman in 2013 (or even make his way to New York City as one of the five finalists for the award), a strong finish will put him at the top of the list for 2014.