Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Onwenu, OL Stephen Spanellis, TE Nick Eubanks, TE Sean McKeon, TE Devin Asiasi, WR Eddie McDoom, WR Nate Johnson, WR Kekoa Crawford, WR Chris Evans,
WR Brad Hawkins, WR Ahmir Mitchell.
|Prattville, AL – 6'1", 225|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#2 FB, #17 AL
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#77 RB, #31 AL
|24/7||3*, #907 overall
#2 FB, #32 AL
|Other Suitors||Neb, UF, LSU, UL, MissSt, Miss|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Early enrollee. Prattville (Keith Washington, Bam Richards).|
Sam Webb was taking in Michigan's satellite camp in Prattville, Alabama, last year when an older gentleman came up to him and started asking about Kingston Davis. "I hear Michigan's recruiting him as a fullback," the man said. Michigan was not recruiting Davis as a fullback. Webb said as much to the man, who then introduced himself as Davis's father. When Sam related this story to me he more or less made it sound like this:
Sam left with his head. Kingston Davis, who is not a fullback, committed shortly thereafter. Kingston Davis knows which recruiting sites had the audacity to declare him a fullback…
…"All of (the schools) recruited me at running back. Rivals and 247, I didn't know what happened," Davis said. "They just put me down as a fullback, so everyone started thinking I was a fullback. But that's not my game."
…and he is not pleased. Beware, oh sites that ranked him thusly, for you know not the hour when a moose/human hybrid will find his revenge. You only know he will be carrying a football at the time of your doom.
Anyway. Davis was highly productive at Prattville, setting a school record with 1656 yards in his final season despite Prattville's failure to make the playoffs and going over 100 yards in 17 of his 23 starts. He operated like a high school Brandon Minor as a straight-ahead plowhorse in a spread offense. Five-star Alabama LB commit Lyndell Wilson is a fan after seeing Davis's thighs up close and personal 25 or so times:
"Kingston is an outstanding back and a bruiser. He's explosive for his size and makes big time plays when his team needs him to. … He's very underrated. I don't know much about what he does at camps, but when he puts the pads on and we're playing 11 on 11, he's definitely a beast."
Davis's scouting reports are in line with expectations for a guy who has to strenuously proclaim that he's not a fullback. His attendance at a Rivals camp in Atlanta saw him declared "one of the biggest backs in attendance"—not a surprise—and a guy who had "a ton of success during one-on-ones." That latter is a surprise. Unpadded camps are the worst possible showcase for a guy like Davis.
Tim Sullivan caught him in person, when he was an even bigger load that he seems to be now:
… thick trunk and legs … not slow, but the added weight seems to have cost him a half-step of his quickness.… tough load for opposing defenders to bring down. … if a player doesn't hit him low, he's shrugging off the tackle attempt and continuing on his merry way (often into the endzone). He has good balance, and his feet are quicker than you'd expect for a player of his mass - though they can be even better when he's in excellent shape.
…compact and impressive looking frame. Fullback bulk. …enough speed to break and finish runs, good anticipation in space to feel traffic and change his course to finish. … Will set up blocks … Power style, gap scheme back who runs with good box acceleration. Not a back with high end agility. … true strengths are his size and power. Uses these attributes well working downhill on a consistent basis. Will run high losing some of his power and balance at times. …will punish tacklers consistently. … Understands his strengths and works to use them on each play.
….big bruiser …tough runner that can also make subtle cuts in the open field to extend runs ..Not great maneuverability through the hole or change of direction …good power to run through tackles when he keeps his pad level low. He's a patient but decisive runner with a forward lean and a physical style… productive as a short yardage runner and should be a nice red-zone running back. Should fit will as a power runner in Harbaugh's downhill scheme.
…. runs with his shoulders square to the line at all times and has good body lean. He runs behind his pads and will lower his shoulder to power through tackles from linebackers and defensive backs. He also has a good feel for seeing the hole, sliding laterally to get there, and pressing upfield. Davis also shows a couple nifty spin moves in the hole, rolls out of the grasp of defenders, and even displays an occasional stiff-arm. He falls forward after contact and should gain an extra yard or two while being tackled.
Tyrone Wheatley echoed TTB's evaluation, calling him a "big guy with great vision, great lateral movement and great ball skills" on MGoBlue and telling Webb on WTKA the following:
"This young man is a very, very good runner in terms of vision. His lateral movement is exceptional. Ninety percent of the game is played in traffic and he's able to slide to the next hole. He's sneaky fast. He's a ground-churning, move the chains type of back. A guy we need."
"Able to slide to the next hole" is key when you run a ton of power, because defenses will seek to redirect you with various slants and games and the like; both fullback and tailback have to be aware of the shifting situation in front of their faces and adapt. While Davis is never going to be the kind of guy you want to bounce the ball outside, having the agility and vision to make a course correction is the difference between Kevin Grady and Jerome Bettis. Davis's ability to do that is his main asset outside of the fact that he's borrowing various body parts from dinosaurs.
247 notes that Michigan pursued "bulldozer" Davis with "an aggression reserved for some of the country's top prospects." In this Davis is like tight end Sean McKeon, another guy with bleah rankings who Michigan clearly believes in enough to not only reserve a slot in the class but also an early enrollment spot. As I said in the McKeon profile, while I'd like Michigan to pick up the phone earlier with recruits they aren't going to take, a silver lining to their approach is that when a generic three star does get to Signing Day without incident that's a good indication Michigan likes him a lot better than their ranking.
Davis is the kind of guy who might have been a bigger recruit in 1970, when virtually every program was looking for guys to blow through arm tackles and run over folks when they ran power for the 40th time. While his recruiting rankings are mediocre all around, there was a flurry of interest from other schools even after he committed to Michigan. SEC powers Florida and LSU came in with offer-type substances. LSU's was… interesting:
“They told (my coach) that they wanted to offer me,” said Davis. “(The offer is for) tailback/athlete. Running back… (maybe) slot receiver.”
You'll note that the Gators and Tigers are both manball outfits. Mike Riley's Nebraska is headed that direction and also offered. Davis talked about visiting all these schools but only got out to Nebraska. Davis carries an appeal to a certain type of coach. One of those coaches is Tyrone Wheatley, who morphed from a lightning bolt at Michigan to a pounding NFL running back in one of the most dramatic playing-style makeovers I can remember. When Wheatley appeared on WTKA to discuss Davis and was just as adamant as his new protege that he was a tailback:
"Sometimes people just look on paper and (look at your measurables) and say 'you're a fullback.' Well, I'm not a fullback. If you watched me in college, I never iso blocked anyone. That's a different lifestyle," Wheatley said last week on WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor. "I spent my time avoiding people, not running into them. Kingston's the same way. People would look at his measurables and websites would list him as a fullback. He'd get upset, he'd call me 'coach Wheat, I'm not a fullback. ... I know you're not a fullback, relax.'
Davis has a head coach and running backs coach uniquely disposed to see him as the man with the ball.
Still, Davis's size will make or break his ability to stick at running back, and there are shades of Derrick Green in there. Just shades, mind you. Going into his junior year, Davis weighed in at 228 at a South Carolina camp; at the same time Green was trying to prove he wasn't a DL. However, Sullivan thought he was a big big dude during his senior year:
…we last saw Davis play in the spring, he was planning to shed a few pounds (he was 242 at the time) by the start of his season, but if anything, he looks even bigger now.
He's listed anywhere from 225 to that 242-or-bigger. MGoBlue has him at the lower number, but you take spring roster weights at your peril. Anywhere up to 235 and Davis is good to go as a bashing tailback; once he starts edging above that the ability to get to that second gap in the line gets compromised and the dread specter of fullback rises once more.
Why Sione Houma? This is not necessarily a fullback comparison, as Houma played more and more tailback as the year went on and Michigan discovered he was not only capable of ripping through the line on a dive but juking the occasional DL in the backfield. Houma got up to 243 over the course of his career at Michigan and Davis may end up there given the fact he already hit that number in high school. Also he just looks Houma-sized even now; I wonder if the 225 he's listed at is fact or aspiration.
Derrick Green is another comparable if Davis can't keep his weight down and falls over way too easily for a guy his size. Touch the Banner suggested former Wisconsin tailback PJ Hill, and that's a pretty good one. Hill was only 5'10" but played at 220; he was a clubber with surprisingly deft feet. FWIW, Davis compares himself to Eddie Lacy. Lorenz brings up Chris Floyd.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Everyone agrees, and Davis was healthy on a high-profile team. I do think that Davis may have gotten short shrift as a couple sites filed him as a fullback and forgot about him, because fullback.
Variance: Low. College size already, not a ton of upside, not much positional projection, comes from a military family.
Ceiling: Moderate. Won't ever be a home run hitter and there's a reason backs like him are a little bit out of style.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Most likely outcome is that Davis is the thunder in a "thunder and slightly less thunder" RB platoon; there is a slim chance he's Toby Gerhart again.
Projection: 50/50 on a redshirt. Davis has the kind of body that is useful on special teams and running back is a spot where you generally have it or you don't; he's also physically ready to go and enrolled early. He could get some run this year, especially if there are injury issues. Even a redshirt zealot like your author would shrug at Davis playing this year.
In 2017 Smith is gone and a lot of carries will open up; Michigan fans are currently hoping that Ty Isaac is an obvious choice as his successor. Davis will still have an opportunity since with Smith's graduation he's a solid bet to be the best short-yardage back on the roster. He could graduate from that as an upperclassman, but even if he pans out I think he's still platooning with Walker or one of the guys who comes in this year.
Yes, fullback—hybrid fullback—is a possibility. While Davis is dead set against it at the moment, a Houma role might be appealing if he feels that he's the #3 or #4 tailback and is facing a choice between getting 50 extra carries on dives or watching from the bench.