Jarrad Davis knew that his ankle wasn’t ready to go but as a senior for the Florida Gators native of Kingsland Georgia, he couldn’t imagine not playing in his final Florida-Georgia game.
So he played.
Davis tallied seven tackles that Saturday but playing in that game, and the following week against Missouri took its toll.
“Playing that Georgia week, that was my week, I couldn’t miss that week,” he said following Florida’s pro day on Tuesday. “Then I felt like I set myself back a little bit doing that, coming back so fast.
Davis missed the next three games. He tried to play in the SEC Championship game but was clearly slowed by he injury. Still, Davis called it a game he “couldn’t miss.” Even with a month to heal before the Gators’ date with the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl Davis was unable to return to the field. The ankle injury also kept him off the field for drills during the NFL Combine. Playing through the injury, however, did show NFL teams and scouts something about Davis’ character.
“That’s just what I do, though. I want to be there for my teammates and that’s what I did. You never know how an injury is going to play out,” Davis said Tuesday. “At the end of the day, looking back, I kind of appreciate it because it just showed me the type of resiliency and the type of person I am and what I can bring to the table.”
Davis injury to his left ankle never, a grade two sprain, never required surgery but it severely hampered his ability to prepare for the tests and drills that he would be asked to do at the combine and then at Pro Day.
As it was, Davis had less than a month to fully train and prepare himself for Florida’s Pro Day on Tuesday. The senior linebacker spent his time training for Pro Day in Orlando but estimated he only had two weeks and a half weeks to get ready. That’s all he needed, apparently.
Davis began the day on the bench press, putting 225 pounds up 23 times, which would have tied him for fifth among linebacker at the combine. Then Davis walked up to the vertical jump but something seemed off. He didn’t think the vertical was adjusted high enough.
“Yeah, when they put it up I kind of looked up and I’m like, ‘Are you going to move it up?’ So I just went for it,” he said. “I really just jumped. I wanted to clear the whole thing.”
He did clear the whole thing.
It took scouts some time to reset the vertical stand for Davis to attempt again. When he was finished he had a vertical of 38 ½”, which was better than any linebacker jumped (including Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers) at the combine. The buzz surrounding Davis was beginning to grow. By the time It was Davis’ turn to broad jump every eye was transfixed on the linebacker. After two attempts where he fell backwards, resulting in a no rep, he flew and stuck the landing.
Ten feet, nine inches, again, a mark that would have placed him atop the board for linebacker at the NFL Combine and don’t think Davis wasn’t watching the combine and taking diligent notes.
“I set marks for myself and really pushed myself to train and compete. If I didn’t get those times, I’d have to go back and put some more work in,” he said. “I had two and a half weeks. I feel like I was in good shape coming out here ready to work.”
Those two eye-popping numbers left only individual drills and the ever important, over scrutinized 40-yard dash.
Davis posted a reported time of 4.54 and 4.55 in the 40, better than any linebacker other than Peppers posted at the combine and notably faster than his former teammate, cornerback Jalen Tabor.
Davis wasn’t surprised by any of the testing times until the 40.
“That was the fastest 40 that I’ve run in my life,” he said. “For it to come up today, it’s the best day.”
Davis has been mocked and projected as a potential first round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. He’s a versatile linebacker who can also play special teams. In the NFL, where teams are limited to a 53-man roster, that kind of versatility, being able to fill multiple roles is highly coveted. Davis had injuries that set back his senior season and even set back his training for the draft but when the lights turned on and it was his time to perform he had a banner day.
“It definitely would be a huge honor to be picked in that top 32 because those are the elite guys, the guys that come out every day and show they love this game and they can play it at the top of the top. But just being picked, in my mind, would be an honor. I just want to be able to continue to play this game, I love this game.”