GAINESVILLE – When Devont’a Davis walked away from the team huddle, holding his pads, he couldn’t contain the excitement resulting from the aftermath of the season’s first game on Thursday night.
Not only did Davis and his Gainesville High teammates start the season off with a 35-17 victory over Ocala Trinity Catholic, last year’s 2B state runner-up team, but Davis had a big say in the victory with his play against Trinity Catholic’s Kadron Boone, who he helped hold to about 60 yards receiving and no big plays on the game. Davis also had an impressive kick return of about 45 yards in the game.
It was the kind of excitement that results from proving your doubters wrong.
“It feels good man,” Davis said. “The whole week everybody was talking about how Boone’s going to put touchdowns on me and everything. I feel like I shut him down. He didn’t put any points on the board on me. I feel good.”
His performance was that much sweeter after seeing first hand how talented Boone actually is.
“He’s a player, man,” Davis said. “Very physical. Very fast. Very tough. He’s one of the best I’ve ever played against. Since I had a chance to go up against him the first game of the season, I should be golden, fine for the rest of the season because man, that boy’s good, man. He’s good.”
Davis also addressed a rumor that had been circling earlier in the week that he would commit to Miami with his teammate, linebacker Kevin Nelson, who left the game with what was thought to be broken ribs.
“There was a little thing in the paper talking about if we win the game then I’ll go to Miami,” Davis said. “But that’s just something my boy Kevin and me do, man.”
He wouldn’t admit one way or the other if there was any truth to the rumor, but he didn’t hesitate to confess his love for another school.
“I’m not going to lie,” Davis said. “My heart is with the Florida Gators. I grew up a Gator.”
Davis says Florida has not given him an offer yet, but if the Gators extend an offer then they will shoot to the top of his list. Right now, Miami sits at the top of his list, and he says he also has offers from Tennessee, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Iowa State.
Davis plans on attending Florida’s season opener on Saturday and says the coaches have kept in touch with him about when they are going to come see him play.
If Davis has a chance to make any headway to getting that offer, then Thursday was a good start with Urban Meyer, Scot Loeffler, Brian White and Billy Gonzales in attendance for the game. Davis said knowing Florida’s coaches were watching the game gave him even more motivation, as if playing against Boone wasn’t enough.
JUSTIN WELLS’ PROSPECT BREAKDOWN
Ocala Trinity Catholic vs. Gainesville
Here are some observations of the top college prospects who took the field on Thursday night:
Kevin Nelson, LB: Checking in just shy of 6-foot-1, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 215-220 pounds, Nelson is a solidly-built linebacker who has the frame to eventually play in the 230-240 pound range on the next level. Nelson was in on a number of tackles and did a good job of assuring that Trinity Catholic running back Kedrick Rhodes didn’t break off that big play run that could stem the momentum back towards the Celtics.
Nelson shows solid speed, hips and change of direction skills, and although he looks to be a middle linebacker on the next level, playing on the outside isn’t entirely out of the question. The Miami commitment was injured towards the end of the contest, and although it didn’t appear to be serious, he was escorted out of the stadium on a stretcher, and taken to the hospital for observation.
Devont’a Davis, DB: Although he still has a ways to go in terms of filling out and developing the necessary bulk to play football for a BCS-caliber team, Davis showed a lot of ability in helping to contain the play of Trinity Catholic receiver Kadron Boone, who finished with 6 receptions on the night for about 60 yards. Davis also had a nice kickoff return that went for about 45 yards.
Davis shows good quickness, but his ball skills still need some work, and I was able to get a great feel for how loose his hips are and how his cover ability will translate to college. At a legit 6-foot (maybe slightly taller) and 170 pounds, his frame makes him a very intriguing prospect on the next level. If Davis can’t stick at corner, a transition to safety would be very smooth with his combination of size and athletic ability.
Ocala Trinity Catholic
Kadron Boone, WR: Boone didn’t put up huge statistics on Thursday, and part of that revolves around the fact that the quarterback situation between junior Jeremiha Gates and sophomore Gray Crow is still being resolved. Boone (6-0, 200) made some nice plays, but didn’t show that ability to break loose and hit the home-run threat against a speedy and talented Gainesville defense. A 1,200-yard receiver a year ago, the Texas Tech verbal commitment (though he is still being targeted by Florida) will see his stats improve over the season as Crow becomes more comfortable in the Celtic offense.
Kedrick Rhodes, RB: Of all the players on the field Thursday night in Gainesville, I thought Rhodes put on the best performance, racking up over 150 yards on the ground. He is a solid back, with great agility, and is tougher than he might look at first glance (owing to his lanky 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame). It’s ironic that Rhodes – built more like a receiver – plays running back; meanwhile, Kadron Boone – built more like a running back – is Trinity Catholic’s top receiver.
In any case, Rhodes should have offers from every school in Florida (outside of the Big Three) and from BCS schools all over the country. He is an extremely durable and dependable back. While he isn’t a threat to break the home-run play every time he touches the ball, he is going to get positive yards every time he starts moving forward with the rock in his hands. Watch his stock rise over the course of this season.
Dionte Ponder, DB: Ponder had a nice touchdown catch to get on the Trinity Catholic on the board in the second quarter, but his future looks to be at defensive back – likely safety – on the next level. Although still lean and very wiry (checking in around 5-foot-11, and 170 pounds), Ponder has qualities that will allow him to play BCS-level football next year.
Chris Johnson, CB: Johnson spent most of the night trying to clean up the mess of the Celtic defensive line, which was simply gashed by the Gainesville running game. At a solidly built 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Johnson has the cover ability to play corner at the next level, but the size, range, and tackling ability to be a brusing safety as well. His versatility hasn’t gone unnoticed, and offers are already coming in for the talented junior prospect.
Others to watch: QB Gray Crow (Trinity Catholic, 2012 prospect); RB Anquan Gainey (Gainesville, 2011 prospect); QB Ryan McGriff (Gainesville, 2011 prospect); OL/DL Shaman Richardson (Trinity Catholic, 2011 prospect)/