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Wednesday October 5th

Quinshad Davis: The cusp of glory

<p>Senior receivers Kendrick Singleton, Quinshad Davis and Damien Washington.</p>
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Senior receivers Kendrick Singleton, Quinshad Davis and Damien Washington.

Posey and her mother had taken a young Quinshad Davis to a local high school football game. From that Friday night, when he took in the game, the players, the lights — he was hooked.

“He knew then that this is what he wanted to do,” Posey said. “That always grabs me. I talk about that a lot. Ever since he was three.”

Davis didn’t actually start playing until two years later, but that didn’t matter. His mother thinks back to when she would come home from work and see Davis playing a football game on a Sega Genesis, amazed that he had figured out the controls at such a young age.

Davis would sit on the couch and practice getting his hands up as his father, James Davis, passed him a ball.

“We went to the football game, and he was like, ‘Momma this is what I want to do,’” she said. “And I was like, ‘Well, baby, that’s what you’re going to do.’

“And he did exactly that.”

‘He would get it done’

The field Quinshad Davis found himself on a little more than a decade later was at Gaffney High School in South Carolina, playing for Dan Jones, who still coaches the Gaffney football team.

Davis was solid his first two years, spending his first season on the junior varsity team.

His breakout season came as a junior. The next two years, Davis caught 202 passes for 3,490 yards and 41 touchdowns, leading Gaffney to a state championship as a senior.

“He was just so sure-handed,” Jones said. “(He) wanted the ball thrown to him, and every time he had an opportunity, he’d make us look good as coaches.”

Jones remembers a specific play during the fourth quarter of a tight game against Dorman High School.

“It’s actually fourth and about eight (yards), and Quinshad told us, ‘Throw this route, and I promise I’ll catch it,’” Jones said. “And we probably shouldn’t have done it, except we knew that he was going to deliver.

“It was a tight ballgame. Probably one of those (plays) I shouldn’t have went for — just felt like he would get it done. And he did.”

‘Try to keep it humble’

A few receptions, yards and touchdowns later, Quinshad Davis is preparing for his fourth — and final — season as a wide receiver on the North Carolina football team.

Not only that, but he’s on the cusp of several UNC career records. He is 31 catches shy of breaking Hakeem Nicks’ receptions record of 181 and is tied with Nicks’ record of 21 touchdowns.

But don’t ask him about any of that. Because he doesn’t much care. He’s tired of talking about it. His own mother didn’t even know about the records until she read about them online.

“I was like, ‘Quinshad, why didn’t you tell me?’” Posey said. “And he was like, ‘Well, Mama ...’ He’s not really concerned with that.

“If it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

More than likely, though, it’s going to come. If starting quarterback Marquise Williams has anything to say about it, it’s going to come sooner rather than later.

“Hopefully we can get the record for him in the first game (against South Carolina),” Williams said. “I’m excited man; it would mean so much to me to give that to him and say that I played with one of the best receivers ever to come out of the University of North Carolina.”

By the way the two players talk about the record, you could argue that Williams is more excited than Davis.

“I do whatever the team needs me to do. I’m not a selfish person,” Davis said. “I’m just doing my job. Helping the team get a win.”

But while Davis is quick to turn away from record-breaking talk and likes to look at team performance rather than individual efforts, he’s not lacking for confidence himself. He’s still the same kid who called for the ball on fourth and eight back in Gaffney. The same kid who always, Jones said, “wanted the ball thrown his way in tight situations.”

“If you aren’t confident in yourself, then who’s going to be confident in you?” Davis said. “A quarterback can’t throw the ball to someone who’s not confident. I feel like I have all the ability and all the talent to make any play. I feel like I can get the ball on any down any time the quarterback drops back. I feel like if he throws it to me, he’s throwing it to a good person.

“I have a lot of confidence. I just try to keep it humble instead of (cocky).”

During the summer, though, much of that confidence was lost.

‘What you need to do’

Quinshad Davis broke his right tibia on UNC’s final offensive play of the 2014 season, putting him out for the entirety of the Tar Heels’ spring practices.

The surgery he needed left him unable to walk or jog for almost four months, and he wasn’t able to do everything he wanted — run, jump, cut — for another three months.

“At the beginning of camp, I was definitely kind of scared,” Davis said. “I have a little hesitation ... I mean I jump and catch the ball, but I’m still kind of scared to come down a little bit.”

As with most things, Davis turned to his mother.

“She was just like, ‘Q, it’s all in God’s plan. It’s meant to happen. Everything happens for a reason,’” Davis said. “She was just telling me, “Keep your head up, work hard and rehab hard, and come back from it.”

The words of comfort from his mother helped renew Davis’ confidence. Helped him avoid thinking about the injury. Now, with just under a week before the season opener in Charlotte — about 35 minutes away from Gaffney — Davis says he feels like he’s back to 100 percent.

And he’s not thinking about records.

“Pretty much over the whole summer,” Davis said, “I was like, ‘Golly, Q. It’s been four years. It happened so fast. This is your last year. Take advantage of it.’”

First and foremost, Davis is trying to help the Tar Heels win.

But — ever the 3-year-old with his mother, waiting to be a football player — Davis is also looking to improve his draft stock and fight his way into the NFL.

“I definitely want to get more recognized this year,” Davis said. “I want to get more exposure this year because I definitely want to enter the draft. I want to raise my draft stock.”

Of course, Davis has talked with his mother about this subject. And just like when she encouraged Davis when he was 5 years old and playing in his first football game, Posey is encouraging her son now.

“You said it when you were young,” she told her son, “You said that this is what you want to do. You can’t be scared. God already healed you.

“So you go out there, and you do what you need to do.”

@CarlosACollazosports@dailytarheel.com



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