Davis: No excuses
Published 10:45 am Friday, August 12, 2011
GREENVILLE — When East Carolina cornerback Emanuel Davis looks back at last year his worst moment was not the time the Pirates’ defense allowed 521 rushing yards in a 76-35 loss to Navy or when the team allowed Rice to roll up 639 yards of total offense in their 62-38 defeat at the hands of the Owls. For Davis, his lowest point came he watched the seniors, his teammates for the past three years, walk off the field after losing 51-20 loss to Maryland in the Military Bowl.
“My worst moment last year was just watching those seniors go out the way they did,” Davis said. “Last year I remember Melvin Patterson telling me, “Don’t wait so long to start leading the younger guys, get on them early because you will regret it if you don’t.”
For Davis, who will be entering his senior year at ECU, seeing that image was like getting a message from The Ghost of Football Future: Not only was it sad to see the seniors leave on a losing note, but it also showed what this season could have in store for him if he and the defense don’t step up.
The 5-11, 182-pound Manteo native is determined to not allow a defensive effort like last season’s happen again and said this year there will be no excuses.
“For me personally at the end of every year I just want to look back and say I competed and I gave it my all,” Davis said. “From a defensive standpoint, the guys were young and I know we had that excuse last year, but this year it’s totally different. Those same guys are the guys we got back and those guys are going to have to produce for us this year. I’m excited about this year and the guys we have on the defensive side of the ball and the new 3-4 scheme.”
Incase you haven’t heard the Pirates, who finished 6-7 in 2010, ranked dead-last in the FBS in total defense under first-year coach Ruffin McNeill and defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell, which that, along not having the right personnel to field a 4-3 defense, led to this year’s new look. Change is something Davis is getting used to as he had to adjust to from former defensive coordinator Greg Hudson’s successful bend-but-don’t-break zone scheme that helped win back-to-back Conference USA titles under Skip Holtz, to Mitchell’s attacking man defense last season.
“The hardest part of last year was the transition into a new defense. We had a lot of young guys who weren’t used to the speed of the game. Then, you got a new playbook going in so fast with so much material,” Davis said. “But, I think the coaching staff is doing a lot better job of explaining it and breaking it down for the younger guys and making sure that we have enough time to digest the material so we can go out on the field and produce.”
Davis has produced his entire Pirates career as he tied for the team lead in interceptions (4) during his freshman year and was named to the C-USA all-freshmen team. In 2009, he led ECU in pass breakups (12) and last season he booked 54 tackles and two interceptions to earn a spot on the all-conference second team.
Heading into the 2011 season things were looking good for Davis as the player who wanted to take on an expanded leadership role was named preseason all-conference. However, the senior had a lapse in judgment on June 18, as the lockdown corner was locked up along with senior wide receiver Michael Bowman for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in downtown Greenville. That arrest has led to the pair being suspended from the team’s season opener against No. 12 South Carolina on Sept. 3.
The man who makes no excuses on the field also applies the same motto to his personal life. Though his actions were immature, Davis, who by all accounts has been a good teammate and student at ECU, has taken several measures to make good with his coaching staff, teammates and the community.
“The only thing I can say about that night is that it happened and the coaches did what they had to do. Me and Michael, we dealt with the situation and took on the responsibility of doing the community service, writing letters to the officers and things like that. As far as we’re concerned we did as much as we could to make the situation right,” Davis said.
While getting arrested was tough, he said nothing was as harder than having to deal with the fact that he let McNeill down.
“We’re a big family and he’s kind of like our father,” Davis said. “We disappointed him, and that’s worse than anything.”
McNeill said that Davis has not let his arrest be a distraction and has come into camp with the right attitude.
“Emanuel is really ahead and has improved quite a bit. If you ask Coach Mitchell, he has had the best spring of anyone,” McNeill said. “We have great kids here and the kids know that we love them as people and as players, but we love them as people more. All the guys here know I’m going to be honest with them and up front and they also know that we love them so much that we are not afraid to coach them or correct them like parents.”
For Davis, his chance to make good on the field will begin on Sept. 10, when the Pirates host Virginia Tech.
“That’s Game 1 for me and I’m going to go out there and make an impact on the field,” Davis said. “I’m going to try and get my guys behind me and get us all going in one direction.”