MORGANTOWN — Eddie Davis had seen the play before.
West Virginia University’s offense was down near the goal line, just like it had been seven or eight plays earlier when Jarrett Brown hit Alric Arnett with a fade for a touchdown to the right.
Now they decided to try to the left, to try Eddie Davis and see how he reacted.
Brown went back to pass. Davis seemed to know what was coming. He stepped in and grabbed the ball.
“He would have gone 95 yards,” coach Bill Stewart would say, failing to finish the rest of the statement, saying he didn’t because this was practice, not a game, and a 6 a.m. practice at that.”
No one should have to run 95 yards that early in the morning.
Eddie Davis is coming on as a cornerback, which is something the Mountaineers dearly need with Ellis Lankster gone and auditions being held for his replacement.
There are those who say that Davis has catlike quickness back there, which is quite fitting, considering he has to feel as though he’s in ninth life as a West Virginia football player.
He came to West Virginia as a running back out of Freedom High in Tampa, then was moved to wide receiver, then to defense.
Don’t ask him about his prior lives.
“I can’t even think about those positions,” he said. “That will only hold me back from getting better at this position.”
And that’s just what Davis has done. He says he’s comfortable at the corner, and he certainly has caught Stewart’s attention.
“I’m happy for Eddie,” Stewart said. “He was on the watch list.”
Stewart was just getting started but it is necessary to interrupt here to explain what he meant by being on the “watch list.”
He wasn’t saying he was in trouble of any kind, or that his scholarship was in danger. Quite the contrary.
He just wasn’t sure about him as a player.
“I never want to give up on a lad because people never gave up on me. It’s his time. He needed to step up, and it looked like he’s doing it. It’s really early, so we’ll see, but he looks like he’s earning a spot on the field next year,” Stewart said.
“Eddie is probably the fastest, if not one of the fastest, guys on the team. He tests well and he’s over a 3.0 GPA student. I can’t remember his name ever coming across my desk for missed classes. All I’ve ever heard about Eddie Davis is that he’s a class guy and has great potential.”
Potential! If there was an evil word, it is potential, for it creates expectations of an athlete from others, expectations that may be real, may be imagined.
As Stewart said, “It’s time for potential to become performance.”
That brings us to David Lockwood, his position coach at cornerback.
“We have the greatest cornerback coach in America, bar none,” Stewart said. “If anyone can help this lad ascertain his thoughts of playing major college football and maybe going on to another level, David Lockwood is the right guy. He did it last year with Ellis Lankster, and Eddie Davis is a talented young man.”
Lockwood has work to do.
Davis is inexperienced at the position, and this year the Mountaineers plan on throwing a lot more blitzing at the offenses. That means man-to-man coverage from the corners, which normally takes not athleticism but experience.
Davis admits he likes zone coverage better.
“I can see the whole field,” he said.
He says he’s getting more comfortable and believes he has what it takes to succeed.
“People say the best athletes are the cornerbacks. It’s pretty much a guessing game. He knows what he’s going to do and you don’t. You need to guess right or, if you don’t, you have to be a good enough athlete to get back into it. It’s kind of freewheeling.”
E-mail Bob Hertzel at email@example.com.
MORGANTOWN — Eddie Davis had seen the play before.
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