He played in all 12 games, starting 10, and had a catch in each one. He tied the ACC record for catches in one game with 16. He was named an honorable mention freshman All-America by CollegeFootballNews.com.
“He’s so athletic and has such great body control in the air,” coach Larry Fedora said.
Davis was a cherished recruit, South Carolina’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior, and came to UNC carrying a set of expectations rare for an 18-year-old.
And it took fewer than 10 minutes for Davis to show the world he’d arrived. The catch came late in the first quarter of UNC’s season opener against Elon. Quarterback Bryn Renner received the snap out of the shotgun, dropped back, let fly and watched.
Davis beat his corner off the line, turned for the ball, and saw the corner tip it. The ball shot into the air, Davis readjusted, tipped it himself, and brought it down as another Elon defender shot toward his knees.
His first career catch carried an important message: Davis was here, unaffected by hype and unfounded expectation.
Now comes even greater anticipation. Davis was named to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s best receiver.
Davis pays no mind to the hysteria, and he’s not sated by last season’s success.
“He is still that very eager football player,” Fedora said. “When you talk to him, his eyes kind of get big, and he’s listening and absorbing everything you say.”
Fedora told him to get stronger. Davis hit the weights. Fedora told him to step up his game. Davis worked tirelessly all summer.
”He’s not that skinny bird-chested kid when he came into camp or came the summer before,” Fedora said.
He’s just a young man trying to make it, and this season is simply another step.