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Notebook: Healthy Davis planning to re-emerge for Gators this season

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida running back Malik Davis. [USA TODAY]

He missed the second half of the 2017 season with an injured knee. He missed most of the 2018 season with an injured foot. Then he came back last season and still wasn’t 100 percent and wasn’t much of a factor.

 It’s easy to see how redshirt junior Malik Davis has become Florida’s forgotten back.

 He gets it. And he’s OK with it because he plans on changing that title this season with his play on the field.

 “That’s fine, I love it. Let them forget, I like it,” Davis said. “I’m definitely determined. When people go down with injuries, people tend to forget. That’s how sports go. I’m ready to refresh their memory.”

 UF coach Dan Mullen said earlier in camp that Davis has regained the form he had back in 2017, when he emerged as the Gators’ best back as a true freshman before injuring his knee in the Georgia game.

 Davis said he’s a hundred percent for the first time since prior to that injury and has gained 10 pounds of muscle (up to 205 now) after spending a full summer in Nick Savage’s strength and conditioning program.

  “The main thing coming back from injuries that I had is just being able to come back and being comfortable, and trusting that you’re OK,” he said. “Now that I got a whole offseason with Coach Savage … this is my first real offseason with him not being injured. ... I definitely feel more comfortable and stronger.

 “Now that I'm 100 percent comfortable and healthy, it’s easy for me to go out there to make those plays like they know I can.”

 Davis is coming off a frustrating 2019 season. He played in 12 games, but had just 34 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. He spent most of the year watching Lamical Perine and Dameon Pierce carry the rock.

  “It’s definitely hard as a competitor, and being just someone who has a lot of love for the game,” he said. “It’s definitely something that was tough for me, but I just kept my head down, kept working, and everything just turned out just how it was supposed to be.”

 He’s come out of it as the forgotten back.  He’s fired up about changing that this season.

 “Yeah, definitely,” he said. “Hearing that and just thinking about people forgetting, it gives me chills. It pumps me up.”

Brewster on the other Kyle

 New tight ends coach Tim Brewster, of course, works with standout tight end Kyle Pitts. But he also has an opinion on the other star Kyle on the team, quarterback Kyle Trask.

 “I’ve been amazingly impressed with Kyle Trask,” Brewster said. “He’s poised to have a great season. You’ve got Dan Mullen, you’ve got Brian Johnson coaching him. Two great quarterback guys and then when you add a work ethic like Kyle’s got … he’s studying the game, a student of the game. He’s got a year under his belt. He’s got veteran experience now.

 “He’s got a nice swagger about him. I like how he moves. His body language on the field is outstanding. Hey, it’s a bad play, so be it. The only play that’s important in football is the next one. Short memories are a great attribute to have for a quarterback. I think Kyle Trask is going to be outstanding this season. I’m just glad he’s a Gator. I’m glad I’m here with him.”

Coping with Cox

 Starting left tackle Stone Forsythe has a very good idea what Georgia transfer and former five-star recruit Brenton Cox is going to bring to the defense this season. He goes against him every day in practice.

 “We go at it every day,” he said. “He’s one of those speed rushers that can change it up. He’s a great pass rusher. He has a bunch of different moves.

 “It’s a little different than what we've been seeing in the past couple years with Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard and stuff like that. He kind of reminds me a little bit of Jachai Polite, just with that speed and the get off."