Ed Davis is tough and is finally getting his chance to prove it.
Maybe everyone already recognizes the skill and potential of Michigan State strong-side linebacker Ed Davis, who recently gained recognition for his assets on the field.
The fifth-year senior was recently added to the Maxwell Club award watch list, joining teammates Shilique Calhoun and Connor Cook. Davis and Calhoun are also on the watch list for the Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player.
The Maxwell Football Club has given the award to “America’s College Player of the Year” since 1937.
Davis and teammate Lawrence Thomas also are on the 2015 Bronko Nagurski watch list — which contains 92 defensive players poised to make an impact for their prospective programs.
That trophy has been awarded since 1993 to the player the Football Writers Association of America deem to be the best college defensive player in the nation.
The publicity is nice, but Davis has big shoes to fill in the Spartans’ linebacker corps.
With players like Greg Jones, Denicos Allen, Eric Gordon and Max Bullough being the poster boys of the unit in the Mark Dantonio era, fifth-year senior Davis has to continue to build on his own success.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Detroit native started 12 of 13 games at linebacker in 2014 — the first season he ever started — and was an honorable All-Big Ten mention with 58 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
Dantonio was upbeat about the prospect of Davis becoming an elite player on the team.
“He may be as good a linebacker as we’ve had,” Dantonio said. “I’m talking about from sideline to sideline, the ability to slip blocks, the ability to get off blocks, the ability to pressure quarterbacks, make tackles.”
But when the head coach excels in the defensive category, and players before Davis are regarded as some of the best in the program’s rich history, it’s not time to dwell on past accomplishments. Rather, it’s an opportunity to work harder and play even better.
It’s a challenge the Southeastern High School graduate is taking seriously, at least according to his coaches.
“This past year, I thought (Davis) had a great season and I think he’s poised to have a great season,” said Dantonio. “He’s quiet. It goes to that leadership I talked about. Is he a leader on our football team? Most would say no, except when you get on the field. Then he takes on a different persona.”
Silent leaders on defense are nothing new on the Spartans’ defense the past few seasons. Some guys chirp and back it up with their play, while others get down to business and let their play speak for themselves.
Davis seems like a soft-spoken individual with a chip on his shoulder. With one last hurrah to win the Big Ten and play in a big bowl game, many sense that the linebackers on MSU should continue to play at a high level. And Davis is the catalyst to make all that happen.