When spring ball started the Florida Gators were looking for a few young prospects to emerge and become players on the defensive line. Having to replace the likes of Jonathan Bullard and Alex McAllister left the Gators with a lot of missing production that needed to be filled.
Thankfully for the Gators they have recruited well, but one prospect is beginning to emerge as more than just a contributor across the front. Former Miami Central High School defensive-end Keivonnis Davis is beginning to make his presence felt early in the spring. Second year defensive line coach Chris Rumph is also recognizing the growth in the talented Davis.
“Tremendously. That guy’s done a really good job of just picking up the defense.” Rumph said when asked about Davis’ growth from his freshman season to now.
Davis played sparingly last year appearing in just two games. You could see the athleticism, but could also tell there was a learning curve to overcome. For any young player there is the need for learning the ins and outs of the program and scheme. For Davis he has leaned on the veterans to help with his growth.
“The other guys have done a good job of just coaching him up, helping him, calming him down and just giving him confidence in himself and his own abilities.” Rumph expressed.
That confidence can be seen in the early stages of the spring practice. Davis is making plays and appears on the verge of a productive year. The Gators showed last year that they are willing rotate bodies in and out during the game and Davis’ rush skills will be needed to provide a pass rush off the edge for Florida come this fall.
The talent is evident but his willingness to grow off the field as a student of the game is up to Davis. Coach Rumph continued to express the responsibility is on Keivonnis when asked about playing an extended role moving forward. “No telling. That depends on him.”
Often time’s young players want to come out and make a splash with their raw ability alone but have to learn that there is a humongous difference between the high school and college game. A year removed from winning a state championship in high school, the game is beginning to slow down for Davis, thus making him more effective and creating more opportunities for playing time.
“He’s picking up his scheme, he’s slowing down and he’s playing within himself,” Rumph said. “He’s not out there reaching and trying to do something outside the framework of the defense.”
The coaching staff is obviously excited about the potential contribution of Keivonnis Davis. Formally committed to Oregon State, Davis saw an opportunity to play for the Gators and he is making the most of it. Davis has benefited from a few injuries across the defensive line and has caused the staff and teammates to take notice.
“He’s just getting better, and like I said earlier those older guys are really helping.” Rumph also noted.
Despite the early praises, nothing is guaranteed for him right now. Keivonnis will have to fight for playing time with the likes of Bryan Cox, Jr., CeCe Jefferson and Jordan Sherit already proven commodities at the end position and young faces Jabari Zuniga, Thomas Holley and Jordan Smith looking to make a splash as well this spring. The sky is the limit for the young prospect and with a few more practices remaining this spring, Davis has positioned himself to be a major player across the frontline for the Gators.