Davis using his basketball instincts in budding football career

October, 14, 2008
10/14/08
11:56
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Some football purists have scoffed at terms like "basketball on grass," insinuating that the action on the hardwood is tamer and less physically demanding than that on the football field.

 
 Julie Scheidegger/US Presswire
 Damian Davis celebrates one of his two touchdown receptions against Missouri last Saturday.

Skinny Oklahoma State wide receiver Damian Davis, a converted high school basketball player, may beg to differ. He's utilizing basketball strategy that has helped him quickly develop into a key receiver for the Cowboys.

The lanky 6-foot-5, 185-pound Davis provided two critical second-half touchdown receptions last week to spark the Cowboys' 28-23 upset victory over Missouri. And his 31-yard snag, owing much to his basketball instincts, was the play that put the Cowboys ahead by two scores and gave them the cushion that eventually led to one of the biggest stunners in school history.

Quarterback Zac Robinson lofted the ball high in the end zone where it was basically a rebound situation between him, teammate DeMarcus Conner and Missouri defender Hardy Ricks. Davis outjumped and outgrabbed the other players to end up with the ball.

"I just went up thinking I was grabbing a rebound," Davis said. "Fortunately, I was in the right place and came down with it. It was kind of like a fighting for rebound coming off the backboard."

His size and leaping ability provide the raw skills that have Oklahoma State coaches salivating about his potential. They just hope to build his football instincts to get him there.

Before Saturday's game, Davis had only six career receptions. But he produced three key grabs for 76 yards to help spark the Cowboys' victory that boosted them to their first 6-0 start since 1997.

"He's not very far along in his career with him being in just his second year here," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "But he's really practiced well in the last month. He's got a lot of natural savvy and a lot of ability to make a play when the ball is in the air. We're glad we have him and we're looking forward to having 2 more years with him."

After a career as a basketball and football standout at Mart High School, Davis originally committed to Baylor, located only 30 miles away in nearby Waco. But in the final days of his recruiting period, he turned away from the Bears in favor of the offer from Oklahoma State.

"It was just too close to home," Davis said. "I wanted to go somewhere a little farther away and Oklahoma State was the best place for me."

Davis might be among the famous native of Mart, a town of barely 2,200 residents. The town also produced Texas wide receiver Quan Cosby and Jesse Plemons, Landry from "Friday Night Lights."

But Davis has shown a willingness to embrace some of the less glamorous football elements as he tried to capture the attention of his coaches -- something that coach Eric Taylor on the fictional show would appreciate as much as Gundy does.

Oklahoma State coaches still rave about how he leveled two defenders on the same play on a 74-yard touchdown grab by Dez Bryant earlier this season. And they like his upside considering his lack of real football experience.

"I just try to put myself in position," Davis said. "I just try to use some things I learned about screening and use some basketball strategy. I try to get my butt down and get after somebody."

After football ends, Davis is considering joining coach Travis Ford's basketball team with the Cowboys.

And his maturity is also growing after he was benched for two of the Cowboys' first three games of the season. He missed the opener against Washington State after he was arrested by Stillwater police on charges of being underage in a bar, possessing a fake ID and presenting a fake ID to a police officer.

But the biggest punishment was not being able to accompany his team to the first game. Davis was so distraught that he couldn't watch the game on television back home in Stillwater, he said.

"That was very disappointing," Davis said. "I definitely learned my lesson after that. No sir, I'm not messing up and I'm ready work. I wanted to step back with an attitude change and I'm really happy to be back getting my chance."

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