Sep 7, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks running back Mike Davis (28) stiff arms Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Amarlo Herrera (52) in the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia won 41-30. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Gamecocks RB Mike Davis among nations' elite heading into 2014

South Carolina junior running back Mike Davis burst onto the national college football landscape early into his 2013 campaign, quickly erasing all doubts about what life after Marcus Lattimore would be like.

Davis torched North Carolina in the season opener for 115 yards and a touchdown a year ago. He didn’t stop there as he finished the season with 1183 yards and 11 touchdowns in his sophomore year.

His career started at South Carolina mildly as he was behind All-American Marcus Lattimore and veteran Kenny Miles on the depth chart. He finished 2012 with a meager 275 yards and two touchdowns. Not to be discouraged, Davis patiently waited his turn, but saw his carries almost double after the injury to Marcus Lattimore during the Tennessee game.

The Atlanta native was called to carry the ball twelve times in the regular season finale against hated in-state rival Clemson, ending the night with 43 yards (including a huge 26 yard scamper late) helping the Gamecocks to a 27-17 win in Death Valley.

The valuable playing time Davis got as a freshman in 2012 set a foundation for a strong 2013 season. Unlike his predecessor, Davis has home run speed compared to Lattimore’s bullish, tough running style. Not to say Mike doesn’t have power–he stands 5’9″ and 223 lbs, and can drop the hammer on unsuspecting linebackers when needed. He runs with deep rooted strength, driving his stocky frame forward at all times. Flash a few yards of green in front of him and he flips on the burners: in 2013 his speed allowed him runs of 75, 75, and 53 yards during his first four games.

Injuries hampered Davis the second half of the year in 2013, thus seeing his production drop. His carries were deferred to Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson while hobbled. A full off-season has a healthy Mike Davis ready to run in 2014.

Maybe the biggest thing going for Mike Davis in his junior year is his offensive line. He should have a lot of holes to run through as South Carolina only loses one starter from the 2013 line, a line that features senior left tackle Corey Robinson, who has 22 career starts under his belt. Davis will possibly be running behind the best offensive line ever at South Carolina. Senior left guard A.J. Cann boasts a team high 38 career starts, poised for a solid end to his Gamecock career and giving Davis a lot of meat to run behind.

Maybe the biggest thing going for Mike Davis in his junior year is his offensive line, possibly the best in school history.
Entering 2014, Davis is firmly on everyone’s radar as a contender for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation’s top college running back, among other awards. Planted into the national scene, many count him in the talks with the nation’s best. He’ll be showcased early: the first game of the year falls on a Thursday night match up with Texas A&M, allowing the entire country to watch his return. The biggest test might fall in week three, where he will be pitted against maybe the nation’s top RB in Georgia’s Todd Gurley.

The year 2014 could be huge in the life of Mike Davis as he looks to spring board into a top pick in the NFL draft. He has the tools, the pieces of the puzzle lay in place, the stars aligned. All that remains is kick off: August 28th in Columbia.

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