- Carter Strickland, Reporter, HornsNation
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AUSTIN, Texas -- The exchange was as comical as it was confusing.
"So Mike is your given name?" said the woman behind the desk.
"No, Magic is my name."
The Longhorn Network's "All Access" show captured the sideways glances that ensued and the compromise that was struck: Magic Mike Davis.
New year. New name. And maybe a new game.
"I see it like a new image -- just making plays," Davis said. "If my name is going be Magic, I have to make magic plays.''
Those plays, the junior wide receiver had not made as a sophomore. After a breakout freshman season -- a freshman-record 47 catches for 478 yards -- there was anticipation that Davis could emerge as a receiver just a tick or two behind the likes of the Big 12's best, Justin Blackmon and Ryan Broyles.
"My mind wasn't really there," Davis said about his 2011 season.
Neither was his heart or attitude. Davis, plagued by off-the-field issues he declined to discuss, found himself dropping balls, shying from contact and getting benched as a starter. Clearly, the quarterback problems didn't help. But he didn't help out his quarterback, either. Even in the last game of the season against Cal, Davis dropped two balls early that could have served as a confidence boost for what was an anemic offense.
"He would just have random drops," said wide receiver Jaxon Shipley. "It wasn't like him."
Davis said it is not like him to give up, either.
"I wasn't going to run away," he said.
And he wasn't going to come back the same this season. Hence the name and attitude change.
"The way I see it is last year I had a lot of distractions with stuff going on," Davis said. "Overall now, I am a better person and better player. I have my head on straight, and I am ready to win."
Said defensive back Adrian Phillips: "He has a lot of weight lifted off his shoulders. He really doesn't stress about much anymore."
Well, except the name thing. And that is big.
Davis picked up the Magic moniker as a baby. He had a propensity for sky-hooking his Pampers into the garbage can. His dad, who played some hoops, saw that and started calling him Magic.
"They thought I was going to be special," Davis said.
He had been as a freshman, and had bursts of it as a sophomore. Davis still led the teams in receptions in 2011. It was just that instead of burning brightly he flickered with inconsistency.
To regain that constant flame and desire, Davis turned to a few former Texas receivers -- specifically James Kirkendoll -- to help him work through his off-the-field issues. With those resolved Davis said he is back to being the player who, at times, proved he could stretch the field and strike fear in a defense.
"I feel like my mind slipped away from me [last year]," he said. "I am just trying to play my game and am not trying to prove any points. I just want to play with passion. I just really want to show everyone that I am back, and I am ready to do this."
And it seems that everybody is ready to accept the new Magic, even Texas coach Mack Brown, though that wasn't the case in the spring. Back in February, Davis went to Brown to request that Magic Davis be put on the back of his jersey. Brown quickly said no.
"He calls me Magic sometimes after some plays," Davis said.
Now if only everybody else would just follow suit.
In a nod to his renewed effort to be the best, Texas junior receiver Mike Davis has changed his name, in theory -- and he wants to play well enough as "Magic Davis" to earn the right for fans to call him by that new name.