Current Date: Sat, 08 Mar 2014 05:36:11 -0500
When asked to single out one of his freshman teammates, senior wide receiver Erik Highsmith didn’t hesitate.
“I like Quinshad Davis,” Highsmith said, about two weeks before North Carolina’s season began.
“I think he’s going to be a great player in the years to come. Just got to keep his head, keep him motivated, and he’s very confident in his abilities.”
On numerous occasions quarterback Bryn Renner also sung Davis’ praises in camp, noting the freshman wideout’s raw athleticism and ability to come down with catches.
That kind of talent wowed Davis’ veteran teammates in training camp time and time again, and less than 10 minutes into UNC’s season opener with Elon, it was put on display for the world to see.
Davis made his very first Tar Heel catch a memorable one, leaping to grab Renner’s throw as it glanced off an Elon defender’s fingertips, then holding on as another defender knocked him off his feet.
The catch made highlight reels and put Davis on the map with Tar Heel fans.
“Oh yeah,” Davis said, laughing. “I got a lot of Twitter followers after that.”
More importantly, Davis has also earned the trust of his coaching staff.
With senior Jheranie Boyd unavailable due to injury, Davis earned a starting role last Saturday against Louisville, and he was immediately a target for Renner.
Five of Renner’s first six passes Saturday were directed toward Davis, and the freshman came down with four of them.
Just three games into the season, it’s been a relatively seamless transition for Davis on the field.
He said that his high school ran a similar offense to the one coach Larry Fedora runs, which is one reason why Davis committed to UNC in the first place.
But off the field, the freshman is still adjusting to college ball.
“It’s been crazy, kind of wild: going to class, studying playbooks,” Davis said.“See, in high school you didn’t really have to study. You’d just go out there and play. Now you got to study your opponent and your playbook. It’s difficult, but it’s getting better.”
Fortunately for Davis, he has found guidance from Highsmith and fellow veteran receiver T.J. Thorpe, who hasn’t played since breaking his foot in pre-season practice. Davis said Thorpe has been giving him tips as he recovers.
Of course, Thorpe isn’t the only Tar Heel wide receiver who has dealt with injuries this season.
Davis himself missed time last Saturday after he was hit hard on the shoulder, and he didn’t dress in full pads at Tuesday’s practice.But with depth a concern, Davis will likely continue to get plenty of balls thrown his way this season.
And that added responsibility doesn’t faze him.
“It’s not that much pressure,” Davis said. “I mean, I always want to do my best, but it’s not much pressure because I’m the freshman. They look to me to make the plays, but they look to (Highsmith) to make the big plays.”
“I’m just there trying to do my job.”
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