When Cole Davis was in his senior year at Live Oak High, he was in a similar position to literally hundreds of thousands of accomplished high school football players throughout the nation: without a scholarship offer from a four-year program. Davis, who carried a 3.7 GPA at Live Oak, could’ve said goodbye to football and start working toward his future goal, whatever that may be.
However, Davis knew he was good enough—and more important, motivated—to get another opportunity to show he was a four-year college player. His hunch was correct, as Davis has signed a letter of intent to play for University of Redlands after a terrific freshman season at Cabrillo College.
“I think the whole (recruiting) process was a great experience, and I’m happy with the decision I made,” he said. “I’m not too far away from home, and Redlands wins a lot, and I want to win a championship. It seemed like the place for be, and they recruited me pretty hard.”
As did Arizona Christian University, which made Davis’ decision rather agonizing at times. Davis admitted he went back and forth, knowing he really couldn’t go wrong with either selection. Ultimately, the chance to stay relatively close to family was one of the decisive factors in Davis choosing Redlands. Davis cherishes family time, and during the 2018 football season Davis stayed at a cousin’s place in Aptos, so he didn’t have to commute back and forth each day from Morgan Hill.
Davis’ lone season at Cabrillo couldn’t have gone any better. On a team filled with plenty of talented playmakers, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Davis led the team in rushing with 663 yards, averaging a whopping 7.0-yards per carry. Davis’ most spectacular game performance came in the penultimate game of the season, a 30-20 win over Merced in which he rushed for 116 yards on just seven carries, including a 64-yard touchdown run.
“That run was pretty crazy,” said Davis, who helped lead Cabrillo to a 7-3 record. “Our linemen were really great and opened up a hole, I was able to hit it and the DBs were too slow to catch me. … It was a good season. I don’t think Cabrillo had gone 7-3 since 1998 or something, we had great receivers, a couple of D1 bounce backs.”
Davis learned a lot in just one season of community college football, things that will help him at Redlands. For one, when given a chance to play, you better be productive.
“Our running game had a system, it worked and we all understood that whoever got going early was going to stay in and finish the game,” he said. “You learn at the JC level things are a little different (and more competitive than high school). It’s still a team sport, but you have to fight for yourself to get playing time and touches. You have to earn that or otherwise you won’t get in. You have to be a little selfish, but at the same time find that balance of helping the team win while doing that.”
When Davis made up his mind he was going to play community college football, it was on a one-year trial basis.
“I wanted to figure out if I was going to like it playing in college, and as soon as the season started I knew I wanted to do one year and transfer,” he said. “I wanted to get in there and learn how it was to be a part of a college program. I learned how hard it would be, and I hit the weights and got faster and better and showed it on the field.”
Davis did just that, and he was able to put together impressive highlight video clips of him possessing speed combined with the ability to run between the tackles and hold his own physically.
Since Davis already had the grades, he could transfer after just one season instead of the typical two years most players in the community college level complete before transferring. Davis actually signed in mid-May, so he was still on a high as he talked with a reporter from the Times last week. In addition to off-season training, Davis has also been working at the San Jose Police Academy.
“I help cadets get into the program so when they do scenarios, I’m one of the role players,” Davis said. “I like it a lot, and I think I might end up going into the academy and becoming an officer one day.”