Hot yoga helped BYU’s Miles Davis find patience — and that’s paying off for the Cougars’ running back

The young running back is looking to seize the starting running back role.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars running back Miles Davis (19) puts in the yards as he carries the ball in football game action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Wyoming Cowboys at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

Provo • At InBalance Yoga, a small studio 12 minutes away from BYU’s campus, Miles Davis is just a guy.

Every Monday night when he walks in, the middle-aged clientele greet him with the same pleasantries they would anybody else. Some know Davis is a young BYU running back. Most don’t seem to care — even on this Monday when he is just two days removed from his breakout performance that lifted the Cougars to 3-1 and inside the top 20 in the country.

Davis likes the obscurity. And for the next hour, he is on the yoga mat, struggling like everyone else to battle the 105-degree temperatures. Sweat pouring down everywhere, he is momentarily allowed to get away from everything and think only about the challenge at hand.

“Everybody is there just to get their body right,” Davis said. “They don’t care about who is all there and what they are doing. That’s why I love it. Everything in my head, I [usually] feel like I go 1,000 miles per hour. Yoga helps me slow everything down and helps me relax … be patient.”

Patience, in his case, has a double meaning. And it is something Davis has been solely focused on for the last three years.

He was convinced that if he was patient, both as he battled injury and changed positions from wide receiver to running back, good things would come. Good things like running for 131 yards and seizing a starting running back position, as he did last Saturday.

But it wasn’t easy and he chased it down in odd places like a yoga studio.

“He has put in tons of work, overcome injury,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I’m just really happy he is on the field right now.”

Davis came into BYU unsure of what to expect. He wasn’t a highly touted recruit and figured he would play wide receiver or defensive back. A high school track star in Las Vegas, Davis knew his best asset was his speed and saw how his skill set would translate.

But nearly from the jump things didn’t go as planned. He came in during the COVID year in 2020 and the coaching staff asked him to change positions to running back.

He learned of the news while in COVID isolation and was left to think about how he could shine in a position he had never played.

“He has a great frame,” Sitake said of why he made the move. “I think the wide receiver background helps him in the running back room. He has added some weight but he is a big-time sprinter too. He can run 400 meters really well and he has running in his background. He is learning the game of football.”

BYU RB Miles Davis catches a pass during BYU's 2022 fall camp (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU)

For most of that season, it was a work in progress. On one of his first runs in practice, he was running straight up like a receiver and got hit so hard in the chest he knocked him back several feet.

Eventually, he started to round the corner, but then a rash of injuries hit. He broke his left foot running track after the season. It caused him to miss all of spring ball and be hampered for the summer.

He worked himself back for fall camp in 2021. With an open competition before Tyler Allgeier took the starting role, Davis felt he was making in-roads for playing time. BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick praised Davis as potentially BYU’s back for the future. But then he broke his right foot during camp and wiped away most of the season.

“I was kinda out of it at that point,” Davis said.

Then he found his patience.

He picked up meditation. He was introduced to yoga by some of his teammates. He could get away from football and focus on his thoughts. It changed his outlook and helped his overall approach.

Coming into this year, he felt better prepared for what would be an uphill climb. He was the fourth-string back to start fall camp. BYU had also brought in Cal transfer Chris Brooks to carry the load of the starting running back duties.

Yet, in training camp, he was one of BYU’s best players and won the third-string duties over veteran Jackson McChesney.

The first three weeks of the season, he didn’t play much. Then, with Brooks playing poorly and the running game sputtering, Davis had a window. He ripped off a 70-yard run and nearly scored a touchdown. By day’s end, he had 152 all-purpose yards and helped BYU knock off Wyoming in a must-win situation.

“He runs fast and he has got speed,” Roderick said about what elements he brought to the running backs room. “He broke some tackles the other night that maybe had been missing. … He just seemed to give us a spark.”

Entering this week’s game against Utah State, Davis was likely be BYU’s featured back. True to form, to prepare for the moment, he centered himself. He got off social media. He spent time meditating and practicing yoga. All the while, he waited patiently.

But soon enough, he knew, it would be his time.