SHREVEPORT, La. – The two star running backs in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl are friends – and one of them revealed to reporters Thursday that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.
No, not Duke Johnson.
It was South Carolina tailback Mike Davis, though Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier told reporters before he arrived in Shreveport that this would be Davis’ last college game.
“Yeah, it’s officially my last game,’’ said the 5-9, 223-pound tailback, who rushed for 927 yards and nine touchdowns this season and has 2,385 career yards. “Of course I always want to go out with a bang. I want to tell my team that I love them and that I’ve enjoyed this long ride.’’
Davis said he met and was roommates with Johnson at The Opening in 2012, a Nike elite recruiting event in Beaverton, Oregon. “We’re really good buddies, spent a lot of time talking to each other [Wednesday],’’ Davis said. …He was trying to recruit me [at The Opening] to come to Miami. That’s how good of a person he is.”
Davis said he and Johnson “talk everyday’’ and . We’re in a group [text] message with him, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon and all the top running backs.
“Lots of positivity, wishing each other well, telling each other that we hope you have a good game or to do this or that. Talk about family and stuff outside of football. No trash talk at all, always wishing each other well.’’
And that’s not the only Davis-Hurricanes connection.
Davis played on the same team his senior year at Stone Mountain, Georgia's Stephenson High with UM linebacker Raphael Kirby, who will try to pummel him Saturday.
The two are good friends.
“It’s going to be very fun,’’ Kirby said. “We’ve had a few conversations. Once we get on the field there’s not going to be much talking, but that’s my homeboy.
“He’s a powerful running back and he fools a lot of people because he’s very fast as well. …He’s a complete back in my eyes. It’s going to be a great challenge for us and I’m looking forward to it.”
The Canes had a closed practice Thursday, then spent Christmas afternoon bowling at Holiday Lanes. The players had Christmas dinner together at the Shreveport Hilton.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN