Avery Davis will be playing his third position at Notre Dame when the Irish hold their first spring practice for 2019 later today. The one time quarterback turned running back / wide receiver has made the switch over to defense, where Brian Kelly was effusive in his praise even going so far as to make some bold predictions on Davis’s future.
Just last year Davis made the switch from quarterback to a hybrid running back / wide receiver role where he impressed in spring practice and create a lot of buzz around his potential role in the 2018 offense. Notre Dame tried to get him involved early on, but the results were mixed. He flashed a little but also looked like he still needed time to develop.
Two fourth quarter fumbles against Wake Forest and the return of Dexter Williams against Stanford sent Davis to the sidelines. He wasn’t heard from again in 2018 other than some garbage time playing time later in the season.
Now Davis will be tasked with learning the Notre Dame defense along with his third position for the Irish.
Notre Dame is in need of some bodies at cornerback this spring so the move makes sense for the Irish. Whether or not it makes sense for Davis’s long term future remains to be seen. Brian Kelly, however, was a bit over the top in his praise of Davis yesterday.
“He moves so well. He has really good football instincts and he has a real chance,” Kelly said. “This isn’t just throwing it out there to see what happens. I think he can be really good corner and play at the next level at that position.”
From quarterback to receiver to running back to cornerback to the next level all in 12 months? Odds are Kelly’s over the top assessment is part confidence builder for Davis and part sales job on his part. Kelly knows that selling a player on a third position in two years is a tough sell.
From Notre Dame’s perspective, the move does make a lot of sense numbers wise. The Irish lost Julian Love a year early to the NFL and are without both Shaun Crawford and Donte Vaughn this spring. Crawford is recovering from his third major injury and it’s safe to question what, if anything, Notre Dame will be able to count on him for this fall. Vaughn meanwhile is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and will miss the spring.
Those departures and injuries leave Notre Dame with just Tariq Bracy, Noah Boykin, and DJ Brown to battle for the open corner spot. Troy Pride has the other on lock down, but that is some perilous depth. Isaiah Rutherford and KJ Wallace arrive this summer for more reinforcements. Having another corner in the mix this spring though makes a ton of sense.
For Davis, we’ll see what this does for his long term future. He was originally recruited to Notre Dame as a quarterback in the class of 2017. At the time, Davis was an important recruit with Notre Dame experiencing its standard off-season quarterback upheaval that used to characterize the Brian Kelly era at Notre Dame. Davis, an Under Armour All-American quarterback, though stuck with Notre Dame and served as the #3 QB in 2017.
With Notre Dame in need of some bodies and athleticism at running back last spring, Davis converted into a hybrid receiver / running back. At the time a “slash” role was envisioned for him in the fall. That just never materialized though Notre Dame did try to force it early on in the season.
For the entire 2018 season Davis ran the ball 22 times for just 70 yards and caught only five pass for 30 yards. After the Wake Forest game, Davis only touched the ball a total of 11 times and some weeks didn’t even see the field.
Now Davis finds himself at a new position yet again at Notre Dame. Perhaps it does lead him to the next level as Brian Kelly suggests. After not playing defense at all though, that projection might just be a little pie in the sky outlook at this point.
If nothing else, Davis has shown an ability to adapt in the past and his willingness to accept yet another position is a testament to his selfless attitude. For that alone every Notre Dame fan should be rooting for him to have a smooth transition during the spring.