Jordan Davis, a young man, was obsessed with mythology. He read books on ancient Greece and learned about the Egyptians. He still downloads TED Talks about everything, from ancient religions to modern faith. Percy Jackson novels were his favorite. They featured a boy who finds he is part god and then embarks on mystical quests to save cursed lands, defeat ferocious beasts and restore honor to a community long condemned to life as an outcast.
Georgia's Davis is leading the way to its annual rivalry match with Florida. He is the anchor of an historically strong defense for No. It's easy for us to see the similarities between the mythology that Davis loved as a child and the story he is writing for these Bulldogs.
Davis was different. He was bigger, stronger, and still faster than almost everyone his age. Davis still stands out, even though he plays in the SEC with world-class athletes. Kirby Smart, his coach, has given him the nickname "Godzilla". Smart stated that he is Godzilla-like.
Even to Davis, it is still surprising that Davis has made it this far. He hid in stalls to avoid weightlifting during high school. At Georgia, he contemplated quitting football because of his early struggles.
Michael Barnett, former teammate, said that he could see how football was forced on him. But it was like, "Bro, you're huge as hell. "Come on.
This might not have been his destiny, even though he appears reluctant to be a hero.
Davis is generating serious Heisman buzz, not due to his numbers, which are merely average, but because of the sheer spectacle of his plays.
Nakobe Dean, a Georgia linebacker, said that he has never seen another like Jordan. "As big and as fast as he moves, it's difficult to believe until you're there with him seeing it every single day."
It makes sense to attribute some supernatural explanation to Davis' performance. Georgia is on the brink of a College Football Playoff run and Davis has the support of perhaps the most skeptical college sports fans, who believe that they have finally found a hero to lead them to the mythical national championship.
However, this wouldn't tell the whole story of Davis.
Grant Gibson, a NC State center who was a high school teammate of Davis, said that it wasn't given to him. He's one of the few guys with his build, but he worked hard to get there. He's grown into his success.
Georgia's Jordan Davis is the anchor for a historically strong defense. Photo by Steven Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images
As a teen, Davis spent his time playing video games and DJing at parties. He hoped for a long time to make his musical talents a business. He was known as DJ Oreo. Although the business failed, he continued to make music with Bill Norton, a fellow Georgian lineman.
Davis was a basketball player his first love. He hasn't forgotten it. In the offseason, he will play a little and then every few days, he will go to the park to shoot some shots. It was all he wanted as a child.
Davis was an AAU player, while Shay Allen, his mother, would watch from the stands as the parents speculated.
"There is no way he can be 15!"
"Ask for your birth certificate."
Allen calmly informed them that she was Allen's mother and that she knew when he was born.
Davis would run down the court and place himself in the paint to create an unbreakable barrier between his opponent and the basket when the game was over. He was an excellent nose tackle.
Allen stated that kids would run into him and he wouldn’t move. He'd be called for a foul if they bounced off him.
Davis was unable to play in most of the games. He loved it.
Davis said that to the coaches of Mallard Creek High School, Charlotte, North Carolina. As a sophomore, he transferred to the school in search of better academic opportunities. However, when registering for classes, he was quickly noticed by the registrar because of his large stature. She was also married to Mike Palmieri, Mallard Creek's football coach.
She said, "You must meet my husband."
Davis had no other choice but to go to the coach's house, where he met Palmieri, the coach of the state champions twice.
"What grade are ya in, son?" Palmieri asked.
"Tenth," Davis said.
"Do you play soccer?"
Davis said, "No," emphatically. Davis said, "I'm a basketball coach."
Palmieri was determined to make that their last interaction. Allen begged him to take her son along to camp that summer. Allen was impressed when he told him that the school provided breakfast and lunch for the team. Davis was introverted and had spent the summer at home playing video games with his friends and raiding mom’s fridge.
Allen stated, "I was working two jobs," and "he was eating me out from house and home."
Allen told her son that he would be going to football practice on the following day. She said he didn't have the obligation to play. He could fetch water and be the equipment manager. Allen wanted him to get off the couch.
Allen got her son up in the morning and shuffled him into her car. Allen was ushered out of the car by Allen's mother, who opened the passenger side door. She also said that she would be back after teaching summer school classes.
Davis stood there confused. Finally, Palmieri and some other coaches found Davis and led him to the field. There, he enjoyed the sun and watched.
Allen stated, "Oh, it was he hated." Allen said, "And he hated it because he made him do it."
Davis was back the next day. He eventually gave in and began to run drills with the rest. He persevered through camp and the school year, but he was still miserable.
The team lifted weights every day, even after classes. Davis, who was 6'6 and more than 300 lbs, struggled to bench press even a fraction his body weight. He begged teachers for tutoring and then hid in the bathroom stalls for as long as an hour until coaches finally found him.
Shon Galloway, former Mallard Creek defensive coach, said that he was in tears and crying saying, "I can't do this." He's made a lot of progress.
Weeks passed. Davis was offered a spot on the JV team. He learned techniques and asked questions. He got better. The kid who used to sob on the weight bench soon squat 400 pounds easily. In a matter of minutes, he was a wrecking ball. He was a JV player and his first game as a defensive lineman came against the JV team. Palmieri recalls that the opposing center was so intimidated by Davis' size that he snapped the ball nearly a dozen more times over the head of the QB. Mallard Creek was a real prospect.
One problem was left: Davis believed that he was still a basketball player.
This year, Davis played 155 snaps at the nose tackle. Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
It was June 2016, and Davis only had one season of Mallard Creek JV football experience. He was a player on the offensive line and wasn't convinced he could play there again.
Davis wanted to play basketball. He was just not very good at basketball.
Davis stated, "It was unlikely that I would make it anywhere averaging 4 points per game."
He loved to play, so he signed up for an AAU camp at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Palmieri had other plans for the weekend. A camp was being held at North Carolina that weekend and many college coaches were there. Because of Davis' size, it was certain that he would be noticed. One of Mallard Creek assistant coaches had already called Tray Scott (UNC defensive line coach) to hype the big kid with raw skills.
Davis was not interested. Palmieri told him he was interested in playing in the tournament. His mom had already spent nearly $200 on the trip. Over the next two weeks, Allen and the coaches came up with a deal: Either her son would return from camp with a scholarship or she'd be reimbursed for the cost of the tournament. It was all written.
Davis was not the star of camp. Scott said that Davis didn't finish the workouts. Although he was not in good shape and was unprepared for the workouts, he was still huge and could move like an elephant. It was all that mattered.
Scott stated, "I had never seen a large child like him be able to move, bend and go over bags like that." I offered him. "I didn't realize until later that he hadn’t played football at all."
This was Davis' turning point. Davis wanted to go to college but knew that his mom couldn’t afford it.
Football opened doors. This was how he could pay for college and change his life. That's something basketball would never do.
Davis stated, "I kept on basketball until the very last," but that football had a real future.
Davis' junior season showed more promise than actual progress. Davis only played a few snaps on defense. His skill set was not as strong on the defensive side of the ball. He was only able to move to defense in his senior year. He started at nose tackle his first game and finished the game with three sacks.
Galloway stated that "he just ate the middle."
Davis was a late bloomer and didn't embrace the offseason camps, where scouting teams and coaches identify the best prospects. He was a three-star recruit and the coach who first offered him a scholarship was his best choice.
Scott was already in Georgia when Kirby Smart devised a plan to create a perfect defense. This blueprint included a 300-pound super-hero to be placed at the D-line.
Davis, who stands 6'6 and weighs in at 340 lbs, is not an easy opponent. AP Photo/John Bazemore. File
MOST SCHOOLS RECRUITED Davis, an offensive lineman. But Scott knew he was a future star at nose tackle.
However, the early returns weren't encouraging. Scott recalled sitting next to Smart at an early practice and Smart shaking his head.
We had video footage and conviction of him running through bags, doing up-downs, and bending. I was like, "Man, people are missing out. He is an ,''' Smart player. "Then he arrived and was struggling and a bit out of form."
Davis arrived at campus with a weight of around 380 pounds. He was expecting to be able to play soon, but he found himself struggling more than ever before. He was frustrated.
Davis stated, "I was so ready for me to go home." "I was like, "Man, this is too much."
Davis was always quiet as a child. Palmieri stated that Davis was quiet for nearly two years at Mallard Creek before he heard him speak much about football. Allen believes football gave her son an identity. The kid who was always noted for his size was now recognized for being a great football player. But even that was not his choice. The world saw him as a huge man who could bend and turn like someone half his height, so he decided to play football. He was now betrayed by his identity, which he was given so many years before.
Michael Barnett, a former Georgia defensive lineman, stated that people expected big things from him. "But his mind wasn't mature enough yet. I took him under my wing."
Davis was Barnett's pet project, along with a few other linemen. They tried to push Davis, but Davis refused. They scolded Davis, and he sulked. They also wrapped their arms around Davis and reminded him that he was welcome, even though he had never played on the field.
Barnett stated, "It was about pushing him to the point where he wouldn’t quit on us and getting past that hump." We all saw his potential. "I was like, "Just do it and have fun."
Davis didn't consider football fun. Although Davis is a friendly guy by nature football was meant to be work.
Gibson, Gibson's high school teammate, said that he used to smile all day back when he was in high school. He was a different person when it came time to go on the field. You don't want him to get in trouble once he's on the field."
Davis had more fun with Barnett, Julian Rochester, and other veterans the more he spent time with them.
He was now laughing during practice and dancing in the locker area. He started to look forward to his workouts. He was free from the pressure.
Davis also met Collier Madaleno from Georgia, the director of performance nutrition. He hopes to find a way to maintain his weight. Madaleno taught Davis how to choose healthier foods to have at home when they went grocery shopping. Davis also took cooking classes. Madaleno taught Davis how to make steaks and potatoes. He loved it. Madaleno hosts "Try It Tuesday" each week where players can try out new foods. Davis is her most prized pupil.
She said, "He'll try everything once."
Davis is a sweet-toothed person, but Madaleno discovered low-sugar Swedish Fish and they are now his favorite. He'll mix vegetables into a smoothie to make sure he doesn’t lose any nutrients. Davis and Devonte Wyatt, a fellow lineman, starred in a video that showed their cooking techniques earlier this year. He narrates that Davis takes a strip steak from one end and places it on a hot skillet. He is now a salesman for Madaleno’s program.
It paid off. Davis was halfway through his freshman season when he got his first game against Florida. Georgia's defense defeated the Gators 37-17. Davis was a fixture on D-line a year later and started eight more games. Davis was a force at the heart of Georgia's defense front and the unit grew into one of the most fierce in the country in 2020.
Davis stated, "I was so in a rush to get onto the field and just try something." "But now, it doesn't matter what I do, as long as I do it 100%.
However, Davis' next move would surpass even his wildest dreams.
Since Ndamukong Suh's 2009 Heisman run, no interior lineman has seriously considered the Heisman. But Davis is the best player in the best unit of the best team in America, so it's a compelling case. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
DAVIS WAS AT AN ATLANTA Braves game a few months ago and was quickly recognized by fans. His height makes him stand out from the crowd and he's used to being noticed. This was something else. The giant was not just a spectacle. They knew his name. They wanted autographs and pictures. Jordan Davis was a famous celebrity.
Palmieri is now coaching in Georgia. As he drove through Atlanta last year, he noticed a billboard that had Davis on it. Although he tries to not bother his former player too often throughout the season, this was too much.
Palmieri stated, "I texted him that that was pretty cool,"
The season began with a match against Clemson in Charlotte, which was a top-five game between two powers. This was the part of the hero’s journey where he discovers he has become far more powerful since his departure. Davis grew up riding by Bank of America Stadium every day in Charlotte, but had never been inside the Bulldogs' home until September when he led them to a win over Clemson of 10-3. The Tigers had only two rushing yards, with Davis completing the game with three tackles, two tackles loss, and a sack.
Davis stated, "That was my Super Bowl." "I was in tears."
There's Heisman talk. Since Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh, in 2009, no interior lineman has seriously considered the Heisman. Since 2012, when Notre Dame's Manti Te’o was voted the best defensive player in the country, no other position has seen him finish in the top three. Davis, however, is the best player in the best unit of the best team in America. He's making a strong case.
Georgia's defense is outstanding so far. They have allowed only four touchdowns in seven games. Davis has taken 155 snaps at the nose tackle this season. Only four of those snaps have produced an explosive play from the offense. When Davis is on the field, opponents average just 2.72 yards per pass. The mammoth defender bull running three O-linemen simultaneously is one of his highlights plays. Davis leaping over blocks to grab a tailback. Davis sprints 10 yards downfield in an attempt to catch UAB's quarterback, a man half his height. This could save him a touchdown run.
Shane Beamer, South Carolina's coach, said that it was one of the most impressive plays he'd ever seen. He also went viral when asked why his team had struggled against Georgia's defense front.
He said, "They have 100 five stars," and "And a defensive lineman that weighs 340lbs and runs better than everyone on this call."
There is however one problem with Davis' Heisman resume. His 155 snaps have equated to 38% of Georgia's defense snaps. Davis is dominant on the first and second downs. He then usually gives way to Jalen Carter, his backup, who has racked-up 2.5 sacks and three QB hurries, as well as six tackles for losses this year. These are all higher totals than Davis.
Scott stated that Jordan has the potential to play three down, but his real value is in helping us win the first down and maximize second long.
Georgia has the highest rate of first-down wins in the country (73.4%). Georgia (33.22) has the highest defensive expected points (33.02).
Is it possible for a player who plays less than half of the game to be the best in college football?
"People say it all the time, "Why doesn't J.D. "People always say, "Why doesn't J.D. Davis said. Davis said, "My job is not to play third down." My job is to get third down."
Even if it means that he isn't considered the best player in the country, so be it. Davis actually agrees.
Davis stated, "I'm excited for Jalen." Jalen will be better than me someday, I think. He's actually better than me.
Davis loves this role the most -- the mentor, cheerleader, and the guy who reminds everyone that it's not work. It's great fun.
At practice, Davis dances. Barnett stated that Davis has "big moves" He's called Big Smooth. He cracks jokes in the locker room to ease tension before the big game. Davis will respond to offensive linemen talking trash in practice by saying, "Man your breath stinks." This is enough to make the whole line laugh.
Davis stated, "I want everyone to have fun." You'd be mistaken to think that we aren't practicing. Coach Smart, I have a lot of fun with him. I want to ensure that the defense is well-oiled and has fun. Our defense is truly special because of the bond, the connection.
Davis, once known as DJ Oreo used to record beats in a local studio. Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
WHAT WAITS DAVIS might be significant -- championships and the NFL draft, superstardom -- but nothing is on his mind right now.
He said, "If I start to think about [the future], then it becomes scary." "I like to be right where I am and where my feet are."
Davis gained weight in mid-September. He said that he was stressed-eating.
There was some drama in the relationship. There was also his pit-terrier mix, Izzy, whom he had adopted. She had torn the couch apart.
Davis says that Davis is a wild child and that she feels like she's to blame.
Then, there was school. Davis is an explorer. He follows a thread that interests him and finds it. These loose threads led him to change his majors at Georgia three times. He began in communications and then switched to marketing. Then he settled on religion, fueled by his fascination with mythology. He's now thinking about switching back to communication.
His mom stated, "He stresses me out with this." I told him that I needed to help him figure out his life.
This is the beauty of the hero's quest. It is a long, winding road filled with small and large obstacles.
If Davis were to write his mythology, it would end with a national championship. This is a gift for the Dawgs faithful, who have endured four decades of frustration hoping that one day, a hero would come and deliver them to the promised Land.
Davis didn't realize he was the hero of this story. He is just a man, a very large man who enjoys Swedish Fish and dogs as well as basketball.
Davis stated, "I never imagined I'd find myself in this position." "The Heisman?" I didn't think I would be recognized. I never imagined I would be an under-the radar player. It's been a wild ride, and I'm thankful for it. But, at the end, I'm still me.
Jordan Davis isn't a mythical hero. But he is far from ancient Greece. In another Athens, however, he could become one.