Sept. 26, 2003
After spring practice this year, redshirt freshman Calvin Davis wasn’t listed on the team depth chart. It was doubtful the wide receiver would see real action this season being behind Maurice Brown, Ed Hinkel, Ramon Ochoa and Matt Melloy in the line-up.
But what a difference a few months make.
On Saturday, Davis will start in his first game as a Hawkeye at split end and will join Ochoa, Melloy and true freshman James Townsend as quarterback Nathan Chandler’s receiver options in their Big Ten season opener against Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich.
“I’m definitely looking forward to this opportunity,” said Davis, an Iowa City native, who graduated from City High School in 2002.
“I think Saturday was major for him. He got his hands on the ball and he made some very nice plays. I think that was just fantastic. I think this will open things up for him and give him the confidence he needs to be able to play successfully.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
But there was a time Davis didn’t look forward to the next football opportunity. In fact, he decided to sit-out of his junior year of high school play to focus on basketball and track. But his efforts were certainly not wasted.
Davis was named Outstanding High School Performer at the 2001 Drake Relays and was a member of the medley relay team that claimed the national title at the National High School Track Meet in Raleigh, NC, following his junior season.
Overall, Davis has garnered nine state titles in individual and relay events and was a member of the City High team that won state championships his freshman, sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He holds the Iowa state record of 47.01 seconds in the 400-meters, which equals the same distance as more than four football fields.
However, peer pressure and a love of the game he was almost genetically born to play (Davis’s father, Bruce, was a three-time Hawkeye letterman in the mid 1970s and his cousin Alonzo Cunningham also played for Iowa) brought Davis back to football for his senior season.
“My buddies were on me to get back out there, so I decided to go back,” Davis said. “I think it was the best choice I made. I had much better opportunities as far as colleges were concerned, and I ended up staying home. I’m having a lot of fun.”
And Davis’s record in prep football is almost as impressive as his records in track.
He helped City advance to the Class 4A state title game in 2001 and had 53 receptions for 910 yards and 10 touchdowns through his career on offense. While a defensive back, Davis had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown and had kick return touchdowns of 80 and 87 yards.
But it wasn’t until last week’s 21-2 win over Arizona State University, that the 6-foot-1, 187-pound Hawkeye receiver got his first glimpse of Division I-A football.
“It felt good to be out there playing. Now I just need to get mentally prepared for it and go out there and make plays and contribute.”
Wide receiver Calvin Davis
Davis had three receptions for 51 yards in the Hawkeyes’ last scheduled non-conference game of the season, including a 23-yard grab.
“I figure I’d get in there a little bit, and now the opportunity has come where I can step up and get in there,” said Davis. “Now, I have to contribute.”
Coach Kirk Ferentz was pleased with Davis’s contribution last Saturday, and he plans on bringing him in on the kick-return team with Ochoa as well, now that Hinkel is sidelined with an injury.
“I think Saturday was major for him,” the coach said. “He got his hands on the ball and he made some very nice plays. I think that was just fantastic. I think this will open things up for him and give him the confidence he needs to be able to play successfully.”
Going from not even being listed on the depth chart to starting in a Big Ten Conference season opener is a big step, but Davis is ready.
“It felt good to be out there playing,” he said. “Now I just need to get mentally prepared for it and go out there and make plays and contribute.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com