Some recruits avoid going to the same school where their father was a star, not wanting to deal with the pressure of trying to live up to expectations.
But Clemson linebacker J.D. Davis has always embraced the challenge that comes with following in his father’s footsteps.
Davis’ dad, Jeff Davis, was a team captain and linebacker for Clemson’s 1981 national title team and is currently in the College Football Hall of Fame. J.D. sees it as an honor to be playing on the same field his dad did.
“One of the biggest factors of why I came here is I wanted to play where my dad did,” J.D. Davis said. “I loved watching him. I’ve grown up watching him and being here in Clemson. There’s nothing like it. It’s been amazing.”
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J.D. Davis is joined at Clemson by his twin brother and fellow linebacker Judah Davis.
The two were rated as two-star prospects by the 247Sports composite rankings for the lass of 2015 but now are contributing for the Tigers as backup linebackers.
“Judah starts on special teams. J.D., man, he earned the 12th-man award this week. Very effective player,” coach Dabo Swinney said. “Some people may get mad because we got a guy that wasn’t highly recruited that is playing. Whatever, get mad. We just try to play the guys that earn it and deserve it and who want to win. I’m not surprised at all. ”
J.D. is tied for fourth on the team in tackles with 24 and led Clemson in tackles with 11 in last week’s win against Virginia Tech.
Judah has recorded five tackles while appearing in three games, and Swinney believes he has a bright future as well.
When the two signed with Clemson, there were some who questioned why they were being offered a scholarship.
“Isn’t that awful some of the comments that young people have to put up with because of ignorance and people’s own agendas? It’s sad. It really is,” Swinney said. “That’s the world we live in now. Sometimes you see things that other people don’t see. We don’t have two better winners on this team than J.D. and Judah Davis..”
J.D. is hoping to build off of his game against Virginia Tech.
He has been as efficient as any player on Clemson’s team with 24 tackles in 90 snaps. The other four Clemson players with at least 24 tackles have each played more than 200 snaps.
“It definitely helps my confidence just being able to believe in myself and be like, ‘Wow, I actually can play at this level,’ ” J.D. said.
J.D. was shocked when he saw the stat sheet and learned that he led Clemson in stops against Virginia Tech.
“Experience is huge, just the more you play, the more experience and that has helped me,” he said. “Coach (Brent) Venables and Ben Boulware teaching me how to prepare away from the facility or away from the mandatory times has been monumental to my growth.”
As has his dad’s guidance.
“Him being five minutes away is big time,” J.D. said. “He’s so wise, so anytime I can soak up some information from him, I’m always asking.”
Who: Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC) vs. Wake Forest (4-1, 1-1)
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
TV/Radio: ESPN2 93.1 FM