2017 Notre Dame QB target Avery Davis 'really special'

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

While many of the top programs in Texas were identifying quarterback recruits in the 2017 class, Avery Davis was waiting his turn.

As a sophomore, Davis was relegated to Cedar Hill (Texas) High’s junior varsity squad for most of the 2014 season. LSU quarterback commit Justin McMillan, a senior, led the Longhorns to another state championship but not without the help of Davis.

Davis rushed for more than 100 yards in the championship game including a 52-yard run that led to the game-winning field goal in the final seconds. His big-play cameo made Davis a name to watch for the 2015 season, but plenty of quarterbacks had built longer résumés as sophomores.

By late August, five major programs in the area already added 2017 quarterback commitments: Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor and TCU.

“It was one of those recruiting deals where they were evaluating guys so early, and you had to wait on Avery a bit because he hadn’t played varsity football,” said Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire.

The scenario created an opportunity for Notre Dame. McGuire, who said he’s known head coach Brian Kelly a long time, let the Irish coaching staff know about Davis earlier this year. Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford visited Cedar Hill, liked what he saw and offered Davis in October.

Notre Dame joined Texas Tech, SMU, Tulsa, Colorado, Kansas, Oregon State and Utah State as the eighth program to extend Davis an offer.

“He started pulling in some offers before really stepping on the field as a starting quarterback and then established himself this year as a guy,” said Scout national recruiting analyst Greg Powers. “That’s when he got the big offer from Notre Dame, which I would probably say is the biggest offer on his list right now.”

Cedar Hill’s season ended with a disappointing first-round playoff loss to Southlake Carroll, but Davis led the Longhorns to a 9-2 record. The 6-foot, 190-pound quarterback completed 138 of his 211 passes for 2,148 yards and 25 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He also rushed for 873 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The same weekend his junior season ended, Davis drove with his family to South Bend for the Wake Forest game. He wasted little time in starting the research process on Notre Dame.

“I know he really enjoyed his visit at Notre Dame,” McGuire said. “How can you not at Notre Dame? Coach Kelly brought the program back to where everybody’s talking about Notre Dame again. I know that he was really excited about the offer and that was what was so important about getting up there to check it out.”

After Notre Dame missed out on 2017 quarterback Hunter Johnson, who committed to Tennessee in August, the Irish took their time in offering another quarterback. Davis became Sanford’s next target. The two quarterbacks have vastly different recruiting profiles.

Johnson, from Brownsburg, Ind., is ranked by many as the top pro-style quarterback in the country and had an extensive offer list before committing to the Volunteers. Davis isn’t even the top-ranked quarterback in his state. The dual-threat Davis is rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals and 247Sports.

Scout has a higher four-star rating for Davis. The recruiting service pegs him as the No. 9 quarterback in the 2017 class and No. 93 regardless of position.

Powers compared Davis to former Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, who threw for 4,617 yard and 49 touchdowns and ran for 1,425 yard and 21 TDs in his senior season at Southlake Carroll.

“He’s a similar style of quarterback. He’s a guy who can throw the ball all around, but if he has to, he can definitely beat you with his legs as well. He’s a good athlete at the position.”

The profile of Davis is likely to rise as more recruiting evaluators and college coaches see his junior film. McGuire will continue to sing the praises of his quarterback that runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash.

“He’s an A student. He takes honors classes. He’s really intelligent in the class room and the film room,” McGuire said. “He’s a competitor. He wants to win. You can challenge him. You can coach him hard. You can have great conversations with him. He has a really good makeup about him. Athletically, he’s a freak.”

The next round of 2017 rankings for Rivals will come in December. Will he make a jump?

“The biggest knock against him right now is his size,” said Rivals Mid-South recruiting analyst Jason Howell. “He’s a shade under 6-foot. And this was his first year as a starter. People wanted to see what he was able to do. He definitely stepped up, was able to get the ball to all the playmakers — they have several highly rated guys — on their team. He was able to make everybody happy, spread the ball around and make quick decisions.”

College coaches will continue to make their way to Cedar Hill because of its loaded roster. Notre Dame may have beaten a lot of schools to the punch on Davis.

“Everybody’s going to get a good look at him,” Howell said. “It won’t surprise me at all to see his offer list continue to grow.”

The quarterback that many Texas programs passed on could be leaving the state to prove his worth.

“I’m taking my guy every day, all day over any of those guys,” McGuire said. “I know I’m biased because he’s my guy, but I’ve been doing this a long time and he’s really special.”

Three-star quarterback Avery Davis, a 2017 recruit, gave his verbal commitment to Notre Dame on Saturday, March 19, while visiting for junior day. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)