Gators sophomore linebacker Jarrad Davis may not have come to Florida as one of the most anticipated recruits, but after freshman season, all that has changed. Davis may have been the most impactful rookie not named Vernon Hargreaves III playing for UF last season. Now, he’ll be inserted into a starting role and will be looked upon to lead the defense.
Even though he wasn’t highly recruited, Davis had a solid high school career for Camden County in Kingsland, GA. In his junior season, Davis racked up 61 tackles including 15 tackles-for-loss and two sacks, and two forced fumbles. He followed that up with a 114 tackle, 5 TFL, and three forced fumble performance his senior year. Davis showed he was a winner, helping the Wildcats to an 11-2 record and a quarterfinal appearance in the Georgia Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
Davis was a late addition to Florida’s 2013 recruiting class, mostly because the Gators were on his radar, but he drew minimal interest from UF. He originally chose Auburn after his junior season, but after Gene Chizik was fired, Davis opened up his options. That’s when he knew he wanted to be a Florida Gator.
“I saw how good they did,” Davis said. “I really wanted to play for a team with a great defense. I was really heavy on Florida before they ever looked at me. There’s a lot of different styles of defense you can play, but I really loved their style.
“It really stood out to me, always attacking and aggressive.” – LB Jarrad Davis from GatorZone
“He was dead set on going to Florida, even though he didn’t have a scholarship offer,” Amy said. “I was like, ‘You don’t even have a scholarship offer from them. Why are we even going?’ and he said, ‘We just need to. I have to see. I won’t know until I go and try.’” – Jarrad Davis’ mother Amy from The Palm Beach Post
Coming out of Camden County, Jarrad Davis was rated as a three-star recruit by most recruiting services. According to 247Sports composite rankings, he ranked as the 36th outside linebacker, 44th player in the state of Georgia, and 493rd overall of the 2013 class. Even though it was clear Florida was his frontrunner, Davis still held scholarship offers from Auburn, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Clemson, among others.
Davis was one of the first freshman to see the field for Florida. He played in all 12 games for the Gators last season, starting out on special teams. He had three special teams tackles to go along with great play en route to being named the Gators’ Most Valuable Special Teams Player.
His hard work paid off. As injuries mounted, Davis saw more and more time at linebacker over more highly touted prospects of his class. He was named team captain for the Missouri and South Carolina games and earned his first start against Georgia Southern. He finished that game with a career-high seven tackles and a forced fumble, as he earned his way squarely into the linebacker rotation. For the season on defense, Davis notched 21 tackles, 2 TFL, a pass breakup, and a forced fumble as he earned respect from his coaches and teammates.
“He’s a guy that has got a lot of maturity about him,” Muschamp said. “Football is very important to him. He works hard. He’s a physical, tough player. He works hard in the weight room. He works hard in the classroom. He works hard on the practice fields.” – Will Muschamp on LB Jarrad Davis (GatorZone)
“I love when he’s out there. Y’all have seen it. I’ve seen it. Coaches have seen it. The whole public has seen it. The boy can play football.” – LB Michael Taylor on LB Jarrad Davis (The Palm Beach Post)
As Davis steps up into a starting role, he’ll be look upon to lead and play consistently. His nature, demeanor, and determination make it clear that Davis will excel in that role. He was one of the few bright spots last season as he became the surprise of the freshman class. Now, as a sophomore wearing No. 40 for the Orange and Blue, he’ll face a new challenge. And hopefully Davis will continue to turn heads for a winning team.