In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a tough, physical Linebacker for the Canes defense: Valdosta (GA) Lowndes LB Thomas Davis.
Tough. Fast. Physical. Those are all adjectives you would use to describe Valdosta Lowndes LB Thomas Davis. He’s a prospect who has shown those traits time and time again, and those traits caught the attention of colleges around the country.
At 6’0.5” 235lbs, Davis is a bit of a tweener. Not tall enough to be a full-time edge rusher, but not fast enough to be a true LB. So, instead of focusing on one, he kinda does both. And that versatility has served him, and Lowndes, very well.
No matter the occasion, Davis rises to the challenge of the day. As a junior in 2019, he helped Lowndes to a 14-1 season that ended as Runners-Up in Georgia’s 7A classification. Along the way, he was MVP of the American Rivalry series matchup against powerhouse Valdosta High, and named Georgia’s Region 1-7A Defensive Player of the Year. His stats on the year? 47 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 11.5 Sacks, and 1 fumble recovery. Disruptive dominance every single week.
Early on in his recruitment, Davis made the choice that he wanted to stay in the South, and committed to Mississippi State. However, when Mike Leach was named the Bulldogs’ coach, and Miami came around with an offer a couple months later, things started to change.
Davis decommitted from Mississippi State 3 weeks after getting his Miami scholarship offer. And while Arkansas and Florida State extended offers his way once he was uncommitted, they never had a chance to gain a foothold in Davis’s recruitment.
Davis ended the suspense and completed the flip when he committed to Miami on July 27th.
On the 247sports composite, Davis is a 3-star prospect, the #24 ILB nationally, #42 in the State of Georgia, and #511 player overall in this class.
Davis committed to Miami over offers from Mississippi State, Florida State, and Indiana from a list of 14 scholarship offers from around the country.
As A Player
Davis is a destructive force rushing the passer and getting into the offensive backfield. He won a Player of the Year award for his success and performance in this area in one of the toughest HSFB classifications anywhere in the country (Georgia’s Region 1-7A), so he performed at the highest level against elite competition. That’s GREAT.
While Davis is well-built at 235lbs, he’s a bit shorter than you’d like at only 6’0.5”. This means he’ll have to work on elevating his game if he’s going to stay at Edge Rusher at the college level. Davis could see time at LB at Miami, which would fit his stature, but he’s a natural coming off the edge, so maybe he’ll prove an ability to stay there. And, while he’s got good size, Davis will need to add more functional strength to contend with college OL, either as an Edge Rusher, or a Linebacker trying to get off blocks and make plays.
Quickness is more of an asset for Davis than straight-line speed. This stands up on film, where quickness helps him get an advantage on the OL, and at camps, where quickness/change of direction testing numbers were better than sprint times for Davis.
Davis will obviously need to work on his coverage abilities as he’s simply not been asked to do that much at the HS level. And that’s with good reason: HE WAS PLAYER OF THE YEAR BY RUSHING THE PASSER!!!!! But, like other players on the roster and in this class, moving from Edge Rusher to LB is the best thing for both player and team moving forward.
Here’s another evaluation on Davis by 247sports Southeast Recruiting Analyst Andrew Ivins:
Built almost like a linebacker. Undersized by Power 5 standards for edge work given lack of length, but explosive first step makes him a dangerous pass rusher. Excels at twists and turns. Ability to quickly move laterally also causes problems from opposing linemen. Productive as a junior totaling 11.5 sacks. Owns a sub-4.8 time in the 40-yard dash, but L-drill time of 7.07 the more impressive testing number. Will need to add strength across the board to avoid being washed away by larger players in college. Must also improve run fits and continue to develop tool box. Figures to carve out a role at the next level in pressure packages. Comfortable with hand in the dirt, but highest ceiling might be as a stand-up rusher.
- Pass rushing
- Physical development
- Production and performance
- Height relative to position
- Average speed
- Functional strength
Note: changing this up from just a freshman-season outlook to a career outlook for each player.
Like others on the roster and in this recruiting class, Davis will need to learn the finer points of playing LB vs Edge Rusher. For some, that comes easy. For others, it takes a minute. In either case, it’s likely that Davis will be a redshirt and/or special teams player his first year at Miami. And while Davis is a well-accomplished Edge Rusher, his height and build points at a transition to LB down the line being the best fit for him.
The key for Davis is really how well he picks up his position change, or if he bosses up enough to stay at Edge Rusher. That will tell the story of his career here at Miami. He’s got the build of Shaq Quarterman, but has to get the mental side of that position down. As such, It will probably be year 3 (RS Sophomore) before he’s a rotation player for the Miami defense.
And, while he’s moving to LB, Davis could be used at the end of the DL from time to time as well. He would probably try to be a shorter version of Trent Harris — not the most explosive, but easily the most steady player at his position — if that were to be the case.
All in all, Davis is another player who raises the floor for talent at the LB position (one where such additions of talent have been sorely needed for many years), and will work toward becoming a rotation player or starter in the back half of his Miami career.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.