WVU football: One move changed Davis' path
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - A whole lot of things have changed for Vernon Davis inside the last year. New college, new conference, new teammates, new coaches, new friends, new jersey number, new position.
One thing remained the same: Davis always wanted to see receivers catching passes in West Virginia games.
Davis transferred to WVU last fall after going through preseason camp at the University of Miami. He was a cornerback there and then one here as he sat out as a redshirt. He watched in certain agony as opposing offenses victimized Mountaineers cornerbacks again and again throughout the 13-game schedule last season.
Davis was supposed to be a good cornerback, a first-team Class 8A all-state player at Miami's Coral Reef High in 2011, and he watched last year looking forward to his chance to combat the Big 12's passing offenses. He knew the Mountaineers would need help at the position in 2013 and he believed he'd be that help.
"It was tough," Davis said. "Last year was kind of like a learning period. I grew as a person watching everyone play and seeing the mistakes they made last year and trying to excel in those positions in practice to get better, but it was a challenge sitting out the whole year thinking you can help."
Spring practice arrived in March and Davis jumped into the competition among the many returning cornerbacks. Then one day at practice, Davis did something simple, but also incredibly complex.
"I was catching punts and I made a certain move," Davis said.
Dana Holgorsen was watching and the head coach noted the footwork and how effortlessly Davis moved forward with the ball in his hands. Right there, Davis became a receiver. He understood everything that came with it.
"You see the opportunity because we throw the ball so much and the offense has been pretty good through the years," Davis said. "I like the offense and the opportunity at receiver. You can actually get the ball."
It wasn't an instantaneous attraction, though. Davis had already spent one season on the sideline. He knew that a position change would mean starting over again, this time at a new spot a year after moving to a new school.
"It did kind of bother me at one point, but I knew that it was something I can do, and in college you make certain changes," he said. "I'm pretty good with the change now. I think I can do pretty well."
He's not entirely new to the position, either. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Davis played offense and defense in high school and caught 62 passes for 1,140 yards and nine touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons. Davis picked the hometown Hurricanes over Nebraska and South Carolina, but he had conversations about playing receiver with coaches at UCF, UCLA and even WVU.
"In high school, all the colleges were telling me I could be a receiver because of my movement and my ability and my quickness," Davis said. "It wasn't surprising I was moved to receiver."
Davis said the coaches who recruited him to Miami mentioned receiver, too. Davis wound up at cornerback, along with five others in the 2012 class, including the top-ranked cornerback in the nation, Miramar (Fla.) High's Tracy Howard.
Davis claimed unhappiness when he left Miami and his high school coach said Davis grew to feel like he couldn't trust Miami's coaches.
That's changed at WVU. His position coach is Lonnie Galloway, who is about to begin his first season back at WVU after working on the staff from 2008-10. Galloway recruited Davis when he was an assistant coach at Wake Forest. WVU's running backs coach, JaJuan Seider, recruited Davis to Marshall when he was an assistant there.
"I didn't feel really comfortable at Miami," Davis said. "I just really wanted to get somewhere where I'm comfortable and I'm around people like the great coaches I have now so I can feel comfortable with them and play."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.