Logan • To get a sense of Willie Davis, one should know a bit of history for the senior cornerback at Utah State.
This is a guy who was so worried about playing in the shadow of his older brother that he didn’t play until his senior year of high school.
Davis is the same guy who sat the bench for much of last season, playing in nickel and dime packages, all the while quietly thinking to himself that he should have been a starter.
And finally, this is the guy who has gone through growing pains and is now one of the most important players on USU’s defense.
“He’s been by far our most productive defensive back so far this year,” Aggies defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said.
Davis, very quietly, has evolved into a lockdown-type of corner. The kind who takes the best opposing wide receiver and follows him all over the field. The kind who makes plays when it counts.
It was Davis who knocked away Jon Hays’ last-second pass intended for DeVonte Christopher to salt away Utah State’s win over Utah last week. He had four pass break-ups in that game. He blanketed Christopher, making him almost an afterthought.
And yet, it was his dropped interception that stuck out to him when critiquing his performance following the victory.
“It was almost too good to be true,” Davis said. “I never thought the quarterback would throw the ball, and when he did and I dropped it, I knew I was never going to hear the end of it.”
That’s who Davis is. He has gone from the timid little brother to a player demanding perfection of himself. He has gone from never thinking that a college scholarship was possible to dreaming of playing football at the professional level.
Davis will match up on Saturday with Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis, one of the better possession wideouts in the country. Like with his assignment on Christopher, Davis’ focus will be to eliminate his foe from the Badgers offense.
“I expect it to be tough,” Davis said. “He doesn’t have great speed, but he runs great routes and has great hands. He’s going to be tough because he’s a good player. But I hope to have some success on him.”
Davis’ ascent through the USU depth chart began in the spring, where he overtook Jumanne Robertson, the starter from last year. He widened that lead in fall camp this summer and has only added to that through the first two games.
Over the summer, Utah State head coach Gary Andersen sat Davis down and told him flatly that he thinks he has potential NFL ability. That has only fueled Davis, who has gone from afterthought to an important piece in relatively little time.
“Willie’s been good for us,” Andersen said. “He’s been our best defensive back, and we think he’s only going to get better.”
Utah State at Wisconsin
P Saturday, 6 p.m.
TV • Big Ten Network