During interviews after Florida’s recent spring game, sophomore running back Malik Davis must have felt like he had landed in the movie “Groundhog Day.”
He kept getting asked the same question over and over. Four or five times at least.
“How did it feel out there?”
Again and again and again.
But that’s probably to be expected when you’re coming off a season-ending foot injury following a season-ending knee injury the year before.
How do you feel? Are you OK?
Well, the answer is Davis feels fine, just fine. Maybe even better than that. His fractured foot has completely healed, his knee is no longer an issue — and he’s off and running in the offense again, hoping to make an impact for the Gators in the fall.
“It feels good,” Davis said. “I worked hard all offseason, so it’s just fun to be back out there, playing around.
“I feel much better. I feel like this offseason, I took my game to another level just by my work ethic and just getting a longer workout, a longer offseason in with coach (Nick) Savage.”
It’s been a difficult — and somewhat painful — first two years at UF for Davis.
He appeared on the cusp of emerging as the Gators’ best running back in his true freshman season, but then was derailed when he injured his knee in the Georgia game.
He came back strong last season, only to see his year end when he broke his right foot in the third game against Colorado State.
He’s healthy now and back for another try in 2019.
“It’s just humbling, because a lot of people take this game for granted,” he said. “But when you are out with an injury, it just makes you appreciate the game even more.
“It’s a great feeling (being back). I’ve been out for a while, two back-to-back injuries. People ask me all the time, ‘Oh what are your expectations, what do you want?’ I’m just happy to be back out there playing.”
Despite missing two seasons, Davis said he doesn’t feel he’s behind the other running backs — Lamical Perine, Dameon Pierson and Iverson Clement.
“No not really,” he said. “Not playing catch-up. Even though I was out, I stayed mentally focused. I wasn’t getting reps, but I was staying involved.”
Davis rushed only twice for four yards and caught two passes for 16 yards in the spring game, but the lack of opportunities did not detract from his feel-good comeback.
“I was just excited to finally be back in The Swamp and just show what I’ve been working hard on all offseason,” he said. “Even though it was just the spring game, I was able to show a little piece of how hard I’ve been working and what I’ve been doing to get back out here.
“I’ve been hurt two times and it’s humbled me. Now, I don’t take the game for granted. Every time I get out there, I play each game like it’s my last.”
Davis said he doesn’t have any mental hangups over the possibility of getting hurt again. He took plenty of hits in the spring and held up fine.
And to answer that question he keeps getting: Yes, he feels fine, maybe even better than that.
“I feel great,” he said.
I hope this kid gets a break from injuries this season. I believe he has the speed, quickness and, most important, the instincts to be an excellent RB. He will be particularly valuable playing behind an OL that will need all the vision a good RB has.
As far as the injuries, StL — I’m more than willing to wager that after a longer time with Nick Savage that he’s much less so proned (if that was the case in the first place), but also a helluva lot more agile……and he was pretty agile at that when in top form before he got sidelined. Should be a good year for him if the OL is at least SEC average.
I hope you’re right 6. Knee injuries can be related to poor strength and conditioning. Broken feet are just bad luck. Either way, this kid has paid his dues.
Some people are just injury prone, it has derailed many a football career!
In brief glimpses over the past two seasons, Malik has shown the “it” factor with natural football instincts. How great would it be if his body would allow him to play a full season. Maybe 6 is right that Coach Savage takes care of that body for Malik!
Young man deserves a real on the injury front. But as ask have said in brief glimpses he’s flashed great potential.
break not real not sure what spell check was thinking there.
the offensive line his freshman year wasnt very good, and davis was really good anyway, our best player imo that year, plus the one guy that did well no matter what crazy thing would happen during the season . so im thinking he will be productive this year whether the OL is good or not. the injury last year was a shame but we had enough depth to not be hurt very much. i think by this time next year davis will be nfl bound.
You’re spot on mveal! That’s why I’m hoping the injury bug leaves bypasses him this season. Our OL may need very good RBs in the backfield, especially early in the season.