By Nick Cammuso
Times West Virginian
As early impressions go, Garrett Davis could not have made more of a favorable one in the eyes of Jason Woodman.
Woodman, Fairmont State’s first-year head football coach and a Marion County native, certainly knew about the senior middle linebacker before he even took the gig last December. But since he’s seen Davis in the flesh over the past few months, that level of respect has gone up a few notches.
“Garrett is the real deal,” Woodman said before last Thursday’s Maroon-White spring game. “Flat out, that’s the best way to put it. He is everything that he is cracked up to be. He is athletic, he is smart, he has great instincts. And this is no secret to anybody.”
And Davis — who averaged 10 tackles a games last year despite missing the first two games with a hand injury — shouldn’t be a secret to anyone in the conference entering his senior season.
But merely reaching a high level as a collegian isn’t enough for Davis, a potential league defensive player of the year candidate.
He wants more.
He said as much after a strong performance to close the spring, leading the FSU defense to a 40-18 win on Thursday, finishing with a game-best 11 tackles (10 solo). Davis also added a sack, two tackles for losses and recovered a fumble.
“I feel like we did a pretty good job as a unit tonight out there,” he told Times sports correspondent Duane Cochran. “We know we’ve got things to work on and areas that we can improve in before next fall. All in all, though, I thought we did a decent job of picking up the new keys and making plays.
“As for me I feel like I progressed this spring like I have every spring. I still have areas I want to improve upon and that's going to be one of my main goals going into fall camp.”
And if Davis keeps improving? The sky is the limit, Woodman says, as he feels the linebacker has legitimate pro potential.
“I love him,” Woodman said. “I love having him on the team, and he’s one of those guys that I lean on. And he’s gonna tell me the truth, and you got to respect that. I can not say more good things about him.”
Like Davis, junior running back Daniel Monroe will also be counted on as a leader in 2013, but more on the field than vocally.
And that’s OK with the talented former Florida State transfer, who has rushed for more than 1,700 yards in two seasons with the Falcons. He’s looking for a bounce-back year after dealing with injuries last fall, and has hit the weights hard and re-committed himself to being an every-down back.
Woodman feels he carried a bit of a chip on his shoulder this spring and played with a purpose.
“I think Daniel has a little bit to prove,” he said. “Last year he wasn’t healthy and I think he knows that. He’s got two more years and we’re extremely excited about that. He’s bought into everything we’ve asked him to do and in the fall he’s going to be a leader (for us). Daniel, he’s done some good things here, but I think his best days are ahead of him.”
“A kid like Garrett Davis and a kid like Daniel Monroe made this job attractive. Knowing you have those two guys on your team were things I looked at during the hiring process.”
Now, they’re all Woodman’s and both will play a huge part in determining what the Falcons do this upcoming season.
Email Nick Cammuso at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter@NickCammusoTWV.