Lakeland Lake Gibson defensive end Claude Davis was supposed to be at Friday Night Lights in Gainesville. Although he didn’t make it, we caught up with the 6-4, 235 pound pass rush demon. Davis is a wild man on the field. His savage personality translates into a play making machine. He treats every play like it is the last play of his life.
When he is in the game, he owns the game. He wants to dominate and let everyone he faces know he will beat them.
“I treat it like this is my island,” Claude Davis started. “If I don’t eat then I starve. When I go up against a tackle, a tight end, or guard, or anyone, I am going to make sure they starve and I eat. It is like survival.”
On his island, he isn’t looking to wait on his prey to tire. He attacks early and often. He wants to get right into the action from the get go.
“I play tight end, defensive end, and sometimes nose guard,” he said. “I like hitting people. When I get hit I get intense. Hitting is what I do and I love making big plays. I know I lack a little bit of size for defensive end, but coaches like my intensity, my leadership and aggressiveness.”
All that physical play helped Davis tally some eye popping numbers from his defensive end position. Davis totaled 96 tackles, 14 sacks, two defensive touchdowns, seven forced fumbles and five recoveries in his junior season. Big time college programs have taken notice.
“I got offered by USF, Pittsburgh, Ohio, Iowa State, Clemson, Mississippi State, and Cincinnati,” he said. “The coach from Kansas called me once and I have been to USF once.”
There is one team that if they come knocking will be hard for Claude Davis to turn down. He missed his chance Friday night to impress, but Florida is the tops on his list.
“I have been on campus with (former Lake Gibson offensive lineman and current Gator) Jason Watkins. “The stadium is all nice. They have great coaches over there.”
“I grew up in Georgia, but even when I was there Florida was my team. I just liked they were aggressive. They were always winning. They had a nose for football and a nose for winning.
“If I get offered by Florida I will commit.”
Rounding out his top four are Alabama, USF, and Cincinnati. He had something to say about each.
Alabama: “They always have had great players. They also have great players. I like big crowds.”
South Florida: “My visit there was perfect. I talked to Coach Leavitt and they liked my size and stuff. They have two red-shirt sophomores but their intensity level isn’t as high as mine. In two years they will have a championship team, but I can’t go by just one visit.
Cincinnati: “They have potential to be a powerhouse. You can’t count them out. I have talked to the coaches and I look at them all the time. I read stuff about them all the time.”
A difference maker is what any of these teams are looking for. Someone that can step in when the game is on the line and make the play that needs to be made. That was Davis during one of his playoff games last season.
“We were playing Wharton in the playoffs,” Davis said. “It was 14-16 with 30 seconds left. The quarterback was dropping back. I was in rocket (spread out) and the coach just told me to make the play. I rushed off the ball, hit him, and he fumbled. We got the ball back and saved the game and everyone went nuts.”
He is already making a list of what is important in his collegiate choice.
“Academics, school size, and class size,” he said. “I want to know what I can get out of a school. I want to know how many they graduate and a good overall sports program.”
Claude Davis is an animal on the football field. He brings everything he has on every play and his opponents know it when he greets them.