After a spectacular sophomore season that earned him the attention of colleges across the country, Klein Forest quarterback Matt Davis worked even harder this offseason to prove he wasn't, in his own words, "a one-hit wonder." After pushing himself for months, disaster struck in the first game of the season.
"We were playing Cinco Ranch, and it was a very good game. It was turning out to be a shootout," he said. "They were ahead 21-14 and we were running the two minute drill before halftime. We started at about our 15 and had moved the ball to about their 45. There was about 1:20 left and I dropped back and the rush came, and I took off."
Davis eluded a couple of defenders and headed for the sideline.
"I cut to my right, planted my foot and it stuck in the turf."
The dreaded "pop" followed. Davis had torn his ACL and his season was over.
"In the beginning, there was sort of a mourning process because you're so upset, so down," he said. "To work so hard to play 24 minutes of football seemed like a waste at first."
Once the initial shock of the injury wore off, Davis began to find some positives to concentrate on.
"I talked to my coach, who I'm very close with, and realized that this could be a good thing. God knows things happen for a reason, and I took that into consideration," he said. "I can brush up on my leadership. I have good academics, but I can use this time for better grades. I'll also be prepared mentally, because we have the same schedule next year. I'm watching film on these guys to see what they do, how they react, and next year, I'll know what they're going to do before they do."
On Tuesday, Davis took a big step, walking out onto the football field for the first time since his injury.
"It's been about 7 ½ weeks, about two months," he said. "For most of that time, I haven't been able to walk. It was a combination of excitement and relief to be back out there. I didn't really do much but throw routes; it's more of a milestone that I am getting better and things will be better eventually."
Right after he was injured, Davis said he received a message from the head coach of one of the teams recruiting him. It was one of the first things he read that helped him move toward a positive mindset.
"The next day, I got a message from Coach Sherman. He said, 'Don't worry about it, stay strong,'" he said. "It's really uplifting to go through something like that
to have all these negative things in your head and have a guy who coached in the pros tell you that it's going to be ok is really gratifying."
The note has helped the Aggies' cause in the eyes of the 6 foot, 2-inch, 200-lb. dual threat.
"I'm wide open, but they're right there (at the top)," he said. "My main focus, the main thing I want is good coaches. They're going to be like my dads away from home for next four or five years. They're going to be the people I'm going to be looking to, they're going to be in charge of what I do, when I do it. You can tell a good person."
Besides looking closely at the coaching staffs of the schools interested in him, Davis mentioned a few other key selling points.
"I want to be able to compete for a national championship. I love to compete and I want to be able to contend for a national championship," he said. "I want to be around winning people. I want a good tradition, good history around the school."
Davis' ACL injury, which may have ruined careers a decade ago, hasn't caused any programs to shy away from him.
"I've been hearing from everybody; I can't even name them all," he said. "I've gotten a lot of communications from the Big 12, some schools in the Pac-10 like Arizona, Oregon and USC, and I get something from Cal every once in a while. It's mostly SEC, Pac-10 and Big 12 schools."
Location, it appears, won't be a major issue in the decision-making process.
"It's probably a lower level thing; I'm not going to go to a school because it's far and I'm not not going to go to a school because it's far away," he said. "If it's the University of Houston, or Texas A&M or the University of Washington, I'm going to choose a school where I feel comfortable and can contribute."
Davis, who threw for nearly 1,400 yards and ran for more than 1,400 while racking up 36 total touchdowns as a sophomore, said he'd start paring down his list of school possibilities this summer.
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