Notre Dame QB commit Avery Davis 'raw' and 'a gamer'

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

ORLANDO, Fla. — Avery Davis would have been thrilled to be able to play college football in Texas.

But while Davis was still developing as a high school quarterback, the major schools in the state went out and found commitments at the position for the 2017 class. By the time Davis became the full-time starter as a junior at Cedar Hill (Texas) High, he was left looking for other options.

Davis eventually found his landing spot at Notre Dame, but he's never forgotten how his recruitment played out in his home state.

“Growing up in Texas, I loved all the Texas schools,” Davis said. “I loved the UTs, the Baylors, the TCUs. And they all passed on me because they got their quarterbacks early. That kind of was a chip on my shoulder. Notre Dame came in and I was like, 'That's kind of better than all of them.' It's a blessing.”

Davis had an opportunity to prove he belonged in Sunday's Under Armour All-America Game at Camping World Stadium. Though Texas A&M quarterback commit Kellen Mond may have had the better performance on Team Highlight, Davis was on the winning end of a 24-21 victory for Team Armour.

Mond, who was previously committed to Baylor when Davis joined Notre Dame's recruiting class, completed five of his 13 passes for 90 yards. He was sacked three times and still rushed for 84 yards. Davis had a hard time connecting with his receivers for most of the game, but he did hit Jeff Thomas, who was MVP of the game, with a short pass to his left that Thomas turned into a 79-yard touchdown.

Davis started the game third in Armour's rotation of quarterbacks behind LSU commit Myles Brennan and Maryland commit Kasim Hill. Davis finished 3-of-12 passing for 94 yards, avoided getting sacked and found some success as a runner with four carries for 17 yards.

Madei Williams, a quarterbacks coach for Team Armour who regularly trains Irish sophomore Brandon Wimbush, spent a lot of time working with Davis during the week of practice. He described Davis an unfinished product with a high ceiling.

“I love the kid,” Williams said. “He's very coachable. His attention to detail is phenomenal. He's eager to learn, always trying to get better. He's realized that he's never had anybody to work with him from a quarterback standpoint. So he's so raw. He's looking forward to getting on campus and learn as much as he possibly can.”

Who exactly Davis will be learning from remains unclear. With the departures of Mike Sanford as Western Kentucky's head coach and Mike Denbrock as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator, head coach Brian Kelly will be replacing the roles of offensive coordinator, play-caller and quarterbacks coach this offseason. All three will affect Davis, but the uncertainty hasn't affected his commitment.

“Me and coach Sanford had a really good relationship,” Davis said. “It kind of hurt to see him go, but he had a great opportunity ahead for him. Coach Denbrock, we had a pretty good relationship too. The same with him, he had another good opportunity. No hard feelings. It's a business at the end of the day. I'm still committed to Notre Dame.”

The business of college football also swept up Davis' head coach at Cedar Hill. Joey McGuire was added to Baylor's coaching staff in December after head coach Matt Rhule was hired. The Bears, who didn't want or need Davis in the past, have tried to rekindle his recruitment. Davis said he isn't interested.

“When I saw him get hired, I knew they were going to come after me,” Davis said. “I was happy for him. He's had a great career in high school. He's going to be great in college too. But I'm not really considering Baylor.”

Davis took a lot a way from a week of playing with and against some of the best recruits the country has to offer. The 5-foot-11, 192-pound righty learned to find passing lanes with bigger linemen in front of him and tested how little room he needs to deliver a pass with defensive backs draping his receivers.

“The game speed is a lot faster and the windows are tighter too, because the DBs are smart,” Davis said. “But the receivers are smart too, so you just have to throw them a catchable ball.”

Williams spent most of the week working with Davis on his decision-making and pairing up his footwork with the route combinations and progressions. Davis may have a long way to go, but he made the right decision to get the ball out quick to Thomas on Sunday and let him do the rest.

“I can tell he is a gamer,” Williams said. “He does some little things in practice I can see that when the lights come on, he's going to wow some people.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame quarterback commit Avery Davis completed a 79-yard touchdown pass in Sunday's Under Armour All-America Game. (Photo courtesy of Intersport)