Every spring, several South Florida-area prospects burst onto the national recruiting scene. The BCS no longer exists, but the term "BCS kid" is still commonly used when evaluating players. I wrote a few months ago that there is little doubt that Davante Davis, an unrated cornerback out of Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington, should have better offers than Cincinnati, FAU and Syracuse, and that he was a BCS kid. Now he does, adding South Carolina, Louisville, Wisconsin, Georgia and Ohio State in recent weeks.
There's a lot to like about Davis.
The first thing that pops is his size. He is 6'2.5 and 185 pounds (measurements taken at spring Nike Camp). Size matters in football, and it is often a tie-breaker in evaluations. Schools are looking to get bigger and bigger at corner, to combat the huge receivers being used across the country. That the Seattle Seahawks just won the Super Bowl with a massive, physical secondary only strengthens this trend. Big corners are especially valuable in the red zone, where close games are often decided, because they can contest jump balls offenses throw when they've run out of horizontal real estate. Unfortunately for schools, there just aren't enough six-footers who can stick at corner.
Davis is also playing against some of the best competition in the country, as Homestead played several eventual state champions and even more teams with loads of FBS prospects.
Davis shows impressive press coverage ability in a number of his clips. This is what teams who want to combat the spread by pressing and taking away freebies and automatic throws are looking for in their big corners.
I also like Davis' ball skills. He's clearly played receiver before, either in youth football or earlier in his high school career. He high-points the football well in a few clips, showing good leaping ability to go with his height.
And Davis is very, very good against the run. He attacks opposing blockers with the right angle and leverage, slips them, and takes the ball carrier down with a good tackle, as opposed to trying to blow them up with a hit stick like many young players do.
The questions associated with big corners have always been about hips, change of direction and closing speed. Nobody expects a 6'2 player to have the same ability in those areas that a 5'9 player has, but there is a certain minimum level required to stick at corner, even as the demands on the position evolve. I think Davis has enough closing speed and change of direction to stick at corner in a system looking to utilize big guys on the outside.
As with everything, there's usually a trade-off. While a 5'9 corner might have better closing speed and get better jumps on the ball, the 6'2 corner may never have to get to a spot because the receiver was thrown off his route due to the excellent press conference applied by the 6'2 corner, or perhaps the 6'2 corner can be a step slower but still break up the pass due to having much longer arms and bigger hands.
Davis' 7-on-7 coaches for South Florida Express, who coach at various high schools in South Florida, think he has a lot more than just adequate hips and closing speed. Several of them played major college football or in the NFL, and raved about his performance at recent 7-on-7 events following up on his strong junior season.
So does Sean White, former South Florida four-star quarterback who signed with Auburn in February.
And while many big defensive backs regard talk of moving to safety as blasphemy, it's important to note that having the size to play safety as a backup position actually adds to a prospect's value.