This past Monday former Panther RB Stephen Davis was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame and I agree heartily it was well deserved. As Ron Morris from the The State points out, Davis has a long resume with success at every level worthy of the recognition. Yet I totally agree with Morris with his main point: forget about the career at Auburn and the NFL. He was the number 1 HS football recruit in the class of 1992 for good reason.
In 1991 I watched Davis play in two high school games with my own eyes and the kid that ran like a man simply ran over and past everyone on the field, and I mean everyone. Honestly it wasn't even a fair contest when Davis had the ball. I saw him score 4 touchdowns against their other local rival Gaffney HS before he sat down late in the 3rd quarter. I knew he was going to be a star and was so pissed when he picked Auburn. I wasn't mad because he didn't pick Georgia Tech because Tech was never in the running for Davis. I would not have been mad if he had picked Clemson and ran all over Tech because I knew he was special and wanted to see him run more. He instead got buried at Auburn behind an inferior RB and didn't see the field much early in his career, but that's a whole other story.
Morris brings back some memories regarding Davis and is HS exploits, such as his success running track. Consider who he beat to win the state championship two straight years:
To win the state 100-meter titles his sophomore and junior years, Davis had to beat Gaffney's Tim Montgomery, who later would own the world record in that event. His senior year, Davis again won, this time in a time of 10.28, but meet officials declared the sprint as "wind-aided," and it was not recognized as a record.
"I told the track official that it was wind-aided because that guy weighing 230 pounds ran by your machine so fast," Owings said.
Think about that. At 230 lbs he beat a guy that would go on to set a world record in sprinting. I've got more Stephen Davis exploits...after the jump...
After Davis won a tournament of the best HS sprinters int he country they called him 'Little Herschal' in reference to former Bulldog great Herschal Walker. The comparison fits as both players had massive thighs, amazing power and sprinters' speed.
His former HS coach sums him up:
"He was pretty special," said Doc Davis, the head football coach at Spartanburg High when Stephen rushed for 4,501 yards. "Just the fact that he had the size and the speed. I've coached athletes who were that fast and some with that size, but never the combination of that."
Davis was 6-foot-1 and weighed 215 pounds in high school. Despite his bulk and chiseled physique, he won the state Class 4A 100-meters three consecutive years and captured the 200-meters as a sophomore. His 10.4 time in the 100 as a junior stood as the state record for the next 17 years.
"I really believe that had he concentrated solely on track, if that's what he wanted to do instead of going to the NFL, he would have been a world-class sprinter right up there with any of the fastest runners in the world," said Darryl Owings, Davis' track coach at Spartanburg High.
Yes Davis was quite the athlete and worthy of consideration as one of the best if not the best SC HS athlete ever. Yet that is not why I write this post with extreme praise and pride. It's because of this:
On February 27, 2008 Davis signed a one-day contract with Carolina so he could officially retire as a Panther; he did so the next day on February 28, 2008.
In spite of the fact Davis left SC in 1991 and played elsewhere for 12 years he signed with Carolina in 2003 and played less than 3 full seasons in black & teal but he wanted to retire a Panther as that was where is heart was. Just another reason why Davis is considered one of the best and most popular Panthers ever. He will always be on my list as one of the best ever. It was his ability to run the ball that made the Panthers 2003 SB even possible.
On another note, can you believe he was a 4th round pick in 1996? The Panthers actually drafted two RBs ahead of Davis, the popular but short-timed Tsimanga Biakabatuka (#8) and the less know Winslow Oliver (#73). Man would we like a redo on that draft...but I digress.
So I have to close like this...
Congratulations Stephen Davis on your induction to the SC Athletic Hall of Fame!
Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/05/15/3243132/sc-hall-of-fame-stephen-davis.html#storylink=cpy