With national signing day over North Texas offensive line coach Brad Davis thought he would be safe to take some time to himself.
“After signing day, that’s typically when coaches have a chance to actually take care of their personal hygiene, perhaps get a physical, check your cholesterol, look at the all the weight you’ve put on during recruiting and that kind of stuff,” he said on Thursday afternoon.
Davis, who asserted that he’s been cavity free since the fourth grade, was sitting in a dentist chair when his phone starting ringing. Luckily he didn’t let it go to voicemail because Jim McElwain was on the other end of the phone.
“I was getting my teeth cleaned and I’m very fortunate my dentist was very understanding,” Davis said behind a pearly white smile.
The Gators had a vacancy when former offensive line coach Mike Summers, the lone coach that made the transition from Will Muschamp’s staff to McElwain’s, left Florida for Louisville.
McElwain voiced his concern of the offensive line play late last season. After the bowl game McElwain acknowledged that the Gators had an elite defense and that defense wins championships before pivoting and vowing to “become a lot more physical up front (offensively) than we were this year.”
That message was received loud and clear.
“I think he was just about that clear as you understood it,” Davis said when asked directly if McElwain had relayed that message to him.
Davis’ name came out of the blue late in the coaching search. Davis played offensive line for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. He was on two Big XII championship teams, played in the Orange, Cotton and Rose Bowls, and was the team’s Most Valuable Offensive Lineman in 2002. He’s only 37 years old and the 2017 season will be just his 13th in the college ranks.
After several years of serving as a graduate assistant at Wayne State, Texas A&M and North Carolina, Davis got his first coaching break at Portland State. That’s where he made his first connection to McElwain. Bruce Barnum. Davis coached the offensive line and was the run game coordinator. That elevated him to Portland State, where he served for one season as the Co-Offensive Coordinator before making another jump to East Carolina. That’s where he made his next connection to McElwain. Ruffin O’Neal.
“(Davis) was with a good friend of mine in coaching and that speaks so highly of him in Ruffian McNeil, who I’ve got as much respect for as anybody in this profession,” said McElwain.
This is Davis’ first big opportunity. He spent the 2016 season at North Texas and made the trip to Gainesville when Florida played host to the Mean Green. The world of coaching in college football can be cutthroat. Most coaches are looking to climb the ladder. It would be easy for a young coach to day dream, get lost in the moment surrounded by 90,000 screaming fans and wonder, if only for a second, what it would like to be on the other sideline. Not Davis.
“I’ve never been one of those career-climbing guys that’s constantly trying to get to the next step. For me I’ve let God order every step that I’ve taken. I believe in walking by faith and not by sight,” Davis said. “So for me, my career has progressed or taken off so to speak, because of the values that I embody. I believe my job as a football coach, first and foremost, is to be a servant. It’s not about me, it’s not about my ego, not about walking around and saying ‘Look at me, hey I’m an SEC O-line coach’. It has never been and never will be about that for me. My job is to be a servant to the players that are here right now. I’m a vehicle to their success. Their job is to utilize me to help me enhance every aspect of their lives.”
He isn’t blowing smoke. Davis is as genuine as they come. He’s only been in Gainesville for two weeks but the recruits that have visited campus or have had any interaction with him rave about him. They call him high energy, honest, funny and sincere. Most importantly he knows the work that is ahead and he’s on the same page as the head coach.
“I think we embody some of the same values, which is family,” Davis said of McElwain. “That’s huge for me. You know I felt like I left a great family in North Texas, but I’ve walked into another great family. You know, so I think he’s thorough, I think he’s a professional, I think he offers me the opportunity as a coach to learn and grow, which are things that I strongly desire to do.”