Matt Davis shows off QB skills
Coming back from ACL tear, Southwest signal caller wins offensive MVP
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Matt Davis (Houston/Klein Forest) was upset with his ranking as a four-star athlete.
He wasn't upset with the four stars, but the label as an athlete.
"I really wanted to come out here and prove that I am a quarterback," Davis said. "I wanted to make the throws and lead the team down the field like a quarterback."
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Texas A&M commit showed all the qualities any coach would want in a quarterback as Davis led the Southwest team to a 29-13 victory over the Midwest in the Gridiron Kings championship game Sunday.
"We were definitely representing the state of Texas here because there's just nothing like Friday night high school football in Texas," Davis said. "It's a religion there."
Davis, who missed nearly all of his junior season with a torn ACL, put on an impressive passing display in the semifinals and finals connecting with receivers Thomas Johnson (Dallas/Skyline), Bralon Addison (Missouri City, Texas/Hightower), Griffin Gilbert (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis), Trey Williams (Houston/Dekaney) and Corey Coleman (Richardson, Texas/Pearce).
Even with ESPNU 150 talent Cayleb Jones (Austin, Texas/S.F. Austin) sidelined with a finger injury it was clear the offensive talent was too much for any opponent to handle.
"I think we had the best receivers in this tournament by far," Davis said. "There was someone open on every play and that made my job easy. The guys got open and they made the catches. This is a team MVP award, really."
Cornerback Devante Harris (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) took home the defensive MVP award.
Corey Thompson (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins), another Southwest team cornerback who made plenty of plays, had plenty of positive things to say about his future teammate at Texas A&M.
"Matt is just a wonderful leader and he was keeping everyone focused in the huddle," Thompson said. "He's a great quarterback and he's going to be part of a great thing at Texas A&M."
Davis was sidelined for nearly six months with the injury but says he's at full health for his senior year and ready to show how much his time off helped his game.
"With the injury and the rehab it also gave me more time to focus on my arm and being a strong passer and a more accurate passer," Davis said. "I feel like my whole game has improved and working with Jeff Blake this weekend has brought me along even further. He showed me a lot of things that I'm going to be able to use this year."
The most shocking events happened during the semifinals when the Midwest team, winless in pool play, knocked off the two-time defending champion Southeast team.
Class of 2013 quarterback Ryan Ferguson (Matthews, N.C./Butler) threw three interceptions as the Midwest team won 18-14.
"We had a bad start with a couple of turnovers and there was a pick-six that really hurt us," wide receiver Nelson Agholor (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley Prep) said. "We gave it everything we had but you have to credit them for playing a good game."
"We came into this game as a big underdog so we didn't have anything to lose," running back J.C. Coleman (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith) said. "We just kept fighting and playing hard."
The Southeast team was disappointed with the results and the sudden end of a two-year run of dominance.
"We really didn't expect this, especially against a team that was winless in pool play," Pittman said. "It's frustrating because we are supposed to be the big dogs in this tournament."
Defensive back Terry Richardson (Detroit/Cass Tech) said the victory was proof that great players are everywhere.
"Let's be real, that's the Florida team and we wanted to beat the Florida team more than anything," Richardson said. "They have been walking over everyone at Gridiron Kings from the beginning and we did not want to be the next team."
Even in touch-rules football big collisions happen and the one involving Agholor, Darby and Richardson left all three players a little banged up.
Agholor, who left the event after Southeast's loss to play with his AAU basketball team, was bandaged above his eye while Darby had swelling in his leg and his hand.
"It was a bang-bang play and you know I tried to come over the top to help Terry when he really had everything under control," Darby said. "We all went up at the same time and ran into each other. I'm in a little pain but it's nothing serious."
Agholor said football is always a contact sport.
"It's a physical game regardless of whether it's tackle or not," Agholor added. "So these plays can happen."
Wide receiver Corey Jones (Pittsburgh/Penn Hills) did not come into the event with a lot of publicity but will leave Orlando as a name to remember.
The 5-9, 155-pounder seemed to blow past everyone that covered him and almost made a game-changing play in the finals but a deep pass from quarterback Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle) fell slightly out of his reach.
"That was probably on me because if it hits your fingers you have to catch it," Jones said. "But I was just playing my game and trying to get down the field as fast as possible. Shane could definitely get it there, because he has a cannon."
Jones says Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Cincinnati are the programs that have shown him the most interest so far. Kansas, Kent State, Temple and Toledo also have offered.
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sixty-four players have gathered at Disney World for the third annual ESPN RISE Champion Gridiron Kings event. The players are split into teams representing the Midwest, Southeast, Southwest and West. Rosters
Day 3• Luginbill: Gridiron Kings standouts
• Long: Price sticking with his word
• Long: Southwest ends Southeast's reign
• Newberg: QBs have unique opportunity
• Newberg: Nicknames don't guarantee fame
Day 2• Newberg: Rose set to blossom at Nebraska
• Luginbill: Pool-play breakdown
• Notebook: Agholor accepts late invite